Sharjah Research, Technology & Innovation Park Harnesses Technology For Agricultural Production And Food Security
A 150-square internal farm can produce 1 ton of organic fruits and vegetables monthly, an ideal way to produce sustainable food in the time of coronavirus
As some parts of the world are grappling with food security brought about by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) has been developing innovative and sustainable methods of agricultural production.
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, a team of botanists, agriculturists and engineers from Merlin International, one of SRTI Park’s innovative partners, has been conducting research over the past two years to develop a soil-free vertical cultivation technology that is the ideal way to produce sustainable food.
Located inside the Park is Merlin Agrotunnel, an internal farm with an area of 150 square meters that can produce one ton of organic vegetables and fruits per month.
The water that is used to irrigate the fruits and vegetables come from seawater, properly desalinated through solar energy, thus completing the development of an integrated system of sustainability solutions in natural resources.
Merlin Agrotunnels use very little water – about 90% less than a conventional farm and because they are based on aquaponics they produce fresh fish to harvest as well, along with a range of vegetables and fruits.
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, stressed the importance of adopting and supporting all research and innovations aimed at finding advanced technological solutions for agriculture.
"The SRTI Park seeks to enhance the means of agricultural and food technology in a way that suits the nature of the region's climate and meets its increasing food requirements, thus setting the agriculture and food technology a road map for food security during the next stage," Al Mahmoudi explained.
He added: “We invite all owners of farms and those interested in this vital sector to take advantage of this modern technology by communicating with the Park to collaborate and work to spread this advanced agricultural technology and apply it in their farms or even in their own homes.
“This project is also a unique opportunity for investors in the sustainability technology sector to learn about the research environment that the Park provides for this type of investment.
He noted the current global pandemic has also brought the issue of developing a safe haven for food self-sufficiency. The agricultural system being developed in at SRTI Park is also one of the solutions to the problems of agriculture and food production.
Agrotunnels thrive even in the desert
The Agrotunnel can work in any environment and in any weather – even in the middle of the desert as it comes with advanced cooling technologies that can work on solar and can harvest water from sea or the air.
The Merlin Agrotunnel can be combined into multiple units to create a commercial farm, or a single unit can be setup in a community to provide fresh organic produce for multiple households daily.
Vertical faming saves the cultivated area and control the amount of water needed. These farms also use artificial light as an alternative to sunlight needed for plant growth.
SRTI Park adopts the strategy of relying on scientific research and innovation to achieve sustainability of natural resources. The research site specializes in developing sustainable technologies by offering a platform and infrastructure to further develop a more productive agricultural technology.
Local and global research companies can take advantage of the facilities at SRTIP and forge strategic partnerships to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.