Emirates Flight Catering launches Bustanica, world’s largest vertical farm

Hydroponic farm to feed customers of 100 airlines
/ New Delhi
Emirates Flight Catering launches Bustanica, world’s largest vertical farm

The facility is the first vertical farm for Emirates Crop One

Emirates Flight Catering has launched Bustanica, the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai. Covering an area of about 30,660 sqm, it promises to produce locally sourced, nutritious produce for passengers of Emirates Airlines and 100 other airlines serviced by Emirates Flight Catering.
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Emirates Flight Catering, one of the world’s largest catering operations serving more than 100 airlines, has opened the doors to the world’s largest hydroponic farm, with an investment of USD 40 million. The facility is the first vertical farm for Emirates Crop One, the joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), and Crop One, an industry leader in technology-driven indoor vertical farming.

The 30,660 sqm facility located near Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, is geared to produce more than 1 million kg of high-quality leafy greens annually, while requiring 95 pc less water than conventional agriculture. At any point in time, the facility grows in excess of 1 million cultivars, which will provide an output of 3,000 kilograms per day.

Bustanica is driven by powerful technology, machine learning, artificial intelligence and a highly specialised 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.

A press release says that passengers of Emirates and other airlines can now look forward to forking these delicious leafy greens, including lettuce, arugula, mixed salad greens and spinach, onboard their flights from this month onwards.

Bustanica will help secure supply chain, and ensure that the airline’s customers can enjoy locally sourced, nutritious produce

The vertical farm is not just revolutionising salads in the sky as UAE consumers will also soon be able to add these greens to their shopping carts at the nearest supermarkets. The press release says Bustanica is also planning to expand into the production and sale of fruits and vegetables in the near future.

“Long-term food security and self-sufficiency are vital to the economic growth of any country, and the UAE is no exception. We have specific challenges in our region, given the limitations around arable land and climate. Bustanica ushers in a new era of innovation and investments, which are important steps for sustainable growth and align with our country’s well-defined food and water security strategies,” says Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.

Al Maktoum adds that Emirates Flight Catering constantly invests in the latest technologies to delight customers, optimise operations, and minimise the company’s environmental footprint. Bustanica will help secure supply chain, and ensure that the airline’s customers can enjoy locally sourced, nutritious produce, says the press release, adding that by bringing production closer to consumption, the company is reducing the food journey from farm to fork.

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“After significant planning and construction, and navigating the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic, we are thrilled to celebrate this tremendous milestone alongside our joint venture partner, Emirates Flight Catering. It is our mission to cultivate a sustainable future to meet global demand for fresh, local food, and this first large format farm is the manifestation of that commitment. This new facility serves as a model for what’s possible around the globe,” says Craig Ratajczyk, Chief Executive Officer, Crop One.

The farm’s closed-loop system is designed to circulate water through the plants to maximise water usage and efficiency. When the water vaporises, it is recovered and recycled into the system, saving 250 million litres of water annually compared to traditional outdoor farming for the same output.

The press release further says that Bustanica will have zero impact on the world’s threatened soil resources, which is an incredibly reduced reliance on water and year-round harvests unhampered by weather conditions and pests.

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