The United Arab Emirates is turning to vertical farming and hydroponics to produce food for local livestock as the desert nation tries to reduce its reliance on imports and shield itself from disruptions to global supply chains.
Abu Dhabi-based startup World of Farming will begin building on-site operations at local farms later this year to provide fodder for meat and dairy producers that currently rely on imports for as much as 80% to 90% of their animal feed, said Faris Mesmar, chief executive officer of Hatch & Boost Ventures, a venture capital firm that launches and scales its own startups.
“This region doesn’t have a lot of arable land and the dependency on imports is becoming an issue for all local privately held and commercial farms,” said Mesmar in an interview. Local livestock producers “find themselves with no consistent access with food to feed their animals.”
Land or resource-scarce countries from the Middle East to Asia are increasingly seeking to insulate themselves against food shocks and global supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, politics and extreme weather. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted supplies from one of the world’s top grain exporters, while heat waves have been wilting crops in Europe and the US.