//Skip to content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Could Vertical Farming Transform Agriculture in Egypt?

June 3, 2024
Vertical Farming. Photo credit: Jordan Lye/Getty Images

Vertical farming, planting vertically stacked plants in managed indoor spaces, is an unorthodox agricultural practice that is gaining traction in Egypt. 

Despite the endurance of the Nile River and fertile land, the country has been facing a crisis of diminishing arable land due to urbanization, with only nearly 5 percent of the Egyptian territory being arable, and water scarcity is a pressing concern

Several Egyptian companies are leading the way in different farming methods and technologies, including vertical farming and hydroponic farming. 

Hydrofarms, founded in 2012 by Adel El Shentenawy,  is an agri-solutions company pioneering hydroponic farming in Egypt, which allows crops to grow without soil, using a network of connected nutrients-filled water pipes that produce high-quality food and crops.

Hydrofarms helps local farms get started by providing training and management services. The company aims to export hydroponic produce globally, positioning Egypt as a significant player in sustainable agriculture.

Photo credit: hydrofarms_ / Instagram

Tulima Farms is another prominent company in the market. It is a family business, founded by Mohamed Salama, the Chief Executive Officer, and Zeina Salama, the Managing Director.

“We grow in grow bags, which are made from recycled plastic bottles, tunnel farming, vertical farming, and container farming. We also grow hydroponically – which means we do not rely or grow on soil and use 90 percent less water than conventional farming,” Salama had told Egyptian Streets.

With farms spanning an area of 25,000 square meters, Tulima undertakes vertical and hydroponics farming, specializing in climate-positive, and pesticide-free solutions.

Egyptian efforts extend even further to spreading awareness about alternative farming methods.

Green Future, a cultural and research platform organized by multiple Egyptian universities and scientific academies, educates the youth and helps spread awareness about the environment, biodiversity, green economy, and sustainable development goals, 

The platform advocates soilless farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. Dr. El-Azab El-Refai, a member of the High Advisory Board for Hydroponics at Green Future, and an expert in hydroponic and soilless farming techniques revealed last year a vertical hydroponic farming project that the platform is working on.

Vertical farming project by Green Future. Photo credit: Green Future

El-Refai explained that one square meter of pipes can produce the equivalent yield of 15 square meters of land. He emphasized that early crop maturation is one of the key benefits of hydroponic farming, highlighting that a cabbage lettuce plant would take around 30 days to yield in traditional farming, and take from 20 to 22 days in hydroponic farming.

What is vertical farming?

Vertical farming involves growing crops in vertically stacked layers, often within controlled indoor environments. These structures can be skyscrapers, warehouses, shipping containers, or purpose-built greenhouses, taking up less space than traditional farming would. It uses three methods—hydroponics, aquaponics, or aeroponics—individually or in combination.

One of the most significant advantages of vertical farming is its resource efficiency. By utilizing technologies such as LED lights, hydroponics, and aeroponics, vertical farms create optimal conditions for plant growth, enabling continuous cultivation unaffected by external weather conditions.

LED lights are especially energy-efficient as they can be customized to provide the ideal light spectrum for plant growth; with precise climate control setting a fixed temperature, humidity, and air circulation, plants are allowed to grow in a stable environment, faster and produce greater yields.

Additionally, vertical farming uses up to 98 percent less water than traditional soil-based agriculture, as reported by the World Economic Forum, which is a critical benefit in water-scarce regions like Egypt. 

“It uses 250 times less water than a traditional farm would need,” reports Nordic Harvest, a vertical farming company in Denmark.

Controlled environments of vertical farming decrease the likelihood of pest infestations, reducing reliance on chemical pesticides, preserving natural habitats, and mitigating deforestation. As a result, the produce is healthier and contains fewer chemical residues, which benefits consumers and the environment.

While the initial setup costs for hydroponics farming can be higher than traditional farming practices, and energy consumption must be optimized, vertical farming shows immense potential.

According to a report by  TechSci Research, a global market research company, Egypt’s vertical farming market is poised for significant growth during the forecast period of 2024-2028. By 2026, it is anticipated that the market’s worth in Egypt will rise to approximately USD 19.6 billion (EGP 924.5 billion) from USD 5.3 billion (EGP 250 billion) in 2020.

This growth is fueled by several factors, including the country’s rapidly expanding population, limited cultivable land, and the need to conserve decreasing water resources.

As awareness about sustainability and advancements in technology increases, Egypt’s vertical farming market is set for substantial expansion, potentially transforming Egypt’s agricultural sectors.

Comments (0)