For five-and-a-half years, Stuart Oda has been involved in the indoor vertical farming space. He has been developing technology to make this type of food production more efficient and affordable.
In order to feed this massive population, we will need to increase our agricultural output by 70 per cent over current levels. Just to put this number into perspective, we will need to grow more food in the next 35 to 40 years than the previous 10,000 years combined,” he says.
Highlighting the challenge that we have of maintaining global food safety, the investment-banker-turned-farmer says globally, one third of all the food that we produce is wasted, accounting for 1.6 billion tonnes of food that spoiled on the way to the market or expired in our refrigerators or were simply thrown out by supermarkets and restaurants at the end of the day.
But, Oda does not dwell only on the negative. While the agricultural industry and that the global movement by universities, companies and NGOs is putting together comprehensive research and developing novel technology to address all of these issues, one of the more recent innovations in food production being deployed in industrial parks in North America, in the urban city centres of Asia, and even in the arid deserts of the Middle East is controlled environment agriculture, he says.
Indoor vertical farming is a relatively recent phenomena and the reason for this is that consumers care more about food safety and where their food comes from, and also, the necessary technology to make this possible is more readily available and lower cost, and the overall cost of food production globally is actually increasing, making this type of food production more competitive. Also, “It can be integrated seamlessly into the cityscape to help repurpose idle, underutilised and unused urban infrastructure,” says Oda.