Bustanica has opened the doors to the world’s largest hydroponic farm, backed by an investment of US$40m. The facility is the first vertical farm for Emirates Crop One, the joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC).
This is one of the world’s largest catering operations serving more than 100 airlines, and Crop One is an industry leader in technology-driven indoor vertical farming.
Located near Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, the 330,000sqft facility is geared to produce more than 1,000,000 kilograms of high-quality leafy greens annually, while requiring 95% less water than conventional agriculture.
Bustanica is driven by powerful technology – machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced methods – and a highly specialized in-house team that includes agronomy experts, engineers, horticulturists, and plant scientists. A continuous production cycle ensures the produce is super fresh and clean, and grown without pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals.
Passengers on Emirates and other airlines can look forward to forking these delicious leafy greens, including lettuces, arugula, mixed salad greens, and spinach, onboard their flights from July. Bustanica is not just revolutionizing salads in the sky – UAE consumers will soon be able to add these greens to their shopping carts at the nearest supermarkets. Bustanica also plans to expand into the production and sale of fruits and vegetables.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman, and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group said: “Long-term food security and self-sufficiency are vital to the economic growth of any country, and the UAE is no exception. We’ve specific challenges in our region, given the limitations around arable land and climate.
“Emirates Flight Catering constantly invests in the latest technologies to delight customers, optimize operations, and minimize our environmental footprint. Bustanica helps secure our supply chain and ensures our customers can enjoy locally sourced nutritious produce.”
Craig Ratajczyk, Chief Executive Officer, Crop One said: “After significant planning and construction, and navigating the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic, we’re thrilled to celebrate this tremendous milestone alongside our joint venture partner, Emirates Flight Catering.”
The farm’s closed-loop system is designed to circulate water through the plants to maximize water usage and efficiency. When the water vaporizes, it is recovered and recycled into the system, saving 250m liters of water every year compared to traditional outdoor farming for the same output.
Bustanica will have zero impact on the world’s threatened soil resources, an incredibly reduced reliance on water, and year-round harvests unhampered by weather conditions and pests. Consumers buying Bustanica’s greens from supermarkets can eat it straight from the bag – even washing can damage the leaves and introduce contaminants.