A $40m (AED146m) investment by Emirates Flight Catering and US-based Crop One Holdings will see what the duo claim is the world’s largest indoor farm built near Al Maktoum International Airport.
Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), majority-owned Emirates Airline subsidiary, will build the 12,077m² farm in Dubai as a joint-venture project with Crop One Holdings, which the latter described as the “world’s leading vertical farm operator”.
The above-ground farm will harvest up to 2.7 tonnes of leafy greens per day when it reaches full capacity.
The indoor farm will use just 1% of the water needed to irrigate crops outdoors. And due to the fact the food will be harvested closer to the end consumer, transport-related emissions will be reduced, making it a sustainable agricultural operation in the UAE.
Construction is expected to take one year and will start in November 2018.
Passengers will be able to sample the leafy greens from December 2019, providing they are eating food that EKFC has sold to its customers, which includes 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group, said the farm would help the UAE – which is reliant on food imports – meet its “drive for more agricultural self-sufficiency”.
EKFC’s chief executive officer, Saeed Mohammed, said: Introducing the latest technology to our operations, we secure our own supply chain of high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint.”
He said the company, which is 90% owned by Emirates Airline, was always exploring innovative technologies that could improve its productivity and the quality of the food it services.
Chief Executive Officer of Crop One Holdings, Sonia Lo, added: “Our proven business model has demonstrated profitable commercial production longer than any other major vertical farmer.
“We are farmers using the most sophisticated plant science and proven business efficiencies to provide market leading consumer products every day. Our selection after a 10-month search by EKFC is a validation of our successful business model that uses patented technology and processes to optimise crop yields and facilitate hyper-growth.”