Indoor vertical farm in crowded megacity

23-11-2021    08:12   |    The Daily Star

After the World War II, the Japanese government began their economic reconstruction. The Japanese government bought two-thirds of the total agricultural land from the landlords, the actual owners, and sold it to small farmers at a lower price. Prior to the reform, farmers owned only 23 percent of Japan's total agricultural land. The Japanese government then imposed a ban to stop the landlord system forever. As a result, there was no opportunity for private firms to invest in Japan's farming sector. In 1975, the number of farmers in Japan was about 1.1 crore (11 million) that gradually decreased to less than 20 lakh (2 million) in the next 40 years by 2015. The country's another major cause of concern in the agricultural sector was the age of the farmers. At present, seven out of ten farmers in Japan are aged over 60 years. On the other hand, youths' are seen reluctant to take up agriculture as a full-time profession. As a result, it became very difficult to pull up Japanese agriculture. On one hand, extensive mechanization was required, while on the other hand, youths' needed to attract to come into farming. Now, Japanese government has created opportunities for private investment in the farming sector. As a result, corporate participation, extensive mechanization and use of artificial intelligence in agriculture creating a lot of hope. Several industrial enterprises began investing in the country's agriculture and agricultural technology field. Japan's agriculture has changed quite dramatically and positively since then.

I had the opportunity to have a close look at Japan's agricultural activities in 2006. There I saw an organization called Pasona-II create hydroponic farming management, 30 feet below the ground level, with LED lighting, air and controlled temperature as an alternative farming practice for retired adults. That was soilless farming. Later on, I have seen same practice of soilless farming from Europe to USA and to the Middle East. It is an invention that changed the definition of agriculture.

Recently, I visited an indoor farm, running with the same idea, in Dhaka's Mirpur area. A house in this crowded megacity has been transformed into a unique vegetable garden, following most modern approach of indoor farming. Cultivation is being done there in a controlled environment and of course in indoors. They are cultivating diverse foreign vegetables in indoor where technology, research and brain are their only resource for such tremendous development.

The vertical indoor farm is built by four young entrepreneurs at an abandoned house, known as 'Farm Imagination.' The indoor vertical farm, built with hydroponic system, produces different varieties of salad and vegetable, including lettuce, buckthorn, basil, celery, capsicum and cherry tomatoes. There are also green vegetables, being produced in layers. Specialized LED lights are being used to control lighting and heat while 95 percent less water is needed compared to the normal agriculture procedure.

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Photo by Petr Magera on Unsplash

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