The Middle East is emerging as a cluster of smart cities driven by a proactive approach towards tech adoption, which has been accelerated due to the pandemic, and countries in the gulf are leading the charge towards the future thanks to strong digital infrastructures. E-commerce has ensured that groceries as well as other essentials reach doorsteps in most parts of the region, while food delivery apps are now turning to 3D containers and self-driving vehicles for delivering fresh food during the new normal.
But even as residents in the city get their orders on time thanks to online apps and smart supply chains, food security remains a major challenge in a country that relies on imports for almost 80% of its nutrition. Expo 2020 has arrived in Dubai at the right time, since innovators have found a platform in the event, to demonstrate how fresh produce can be generated in the middle of the dry dessert, thanks to tech.
Based out of Masdar city in the UAE, a startup has developed a device called the HydroArtPod, which is designed to facilitate cultivation of vegetables, fruits and even flowers inside the house, with minimum human effort. Described as a smart garden, the mechanism also makes sure that no chemical is used, while the ability to grow greens at home makes packaging and transportation redundant.
Aiming to cut down time, cost and agricultural waste, the firm called AlinePate also seeks to educate the next generation about the importance of healthy food, along with the need to adopt environment friendly practices. Apart from green vegetables essential for daily nutrition, the HydroArtPod can also be used for growing flowers fit for decoration as well as consumption.
Over the past few months, the quest for food security has prompted the UAE to explore vertical farming backed by AI, hydroponics to cultivate plants and fish together, along with domes which can be used for growing fresh produce in harsh climatic conditions.