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article imageIndoor farms gaining investors as pandemic disrupts food supplies

By Karen Graham     Feb 19, 2021 in Technology
Seed money from investors is helping indoor farms to position themselves as one of the solutions to climate change and pandemic-induced disruptions to the harvesting, shipping, and sale of food.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, it also exposed major issues with our food supply chain, including some issues that have already been attributed to climate change-related impacts.
The COVID-19 pandemic created shipment delays, and with inadequate demand forecasting, store produce departments suffered. This is when local vertical farms and indoor growing operations were able to step in and "fill in the gaps in a way that was unprecedented," writes GreenBiz
Water scarcity has been exacerbated in recent years by growing urbanisation and increasing demand fr...
Water scarcity has been exacerbated in recent years by growing urbanisation and increasing demand from agriculture and industry
Fethi Belaid, AFP/File
There is a whole list of companies that are planning to build on their newfound momentum in 2021. And indoor farming is expected to grow. In 2019, revenue from vertical farming alone was estimated at $212.4 million. Forecasts now call for the industry to hit $1.38 billion by 2027, a compound annual growth rate of 26.2 percent from 2021 to 2027.
There are a number of established key players in the indoor and vertical farming industry, including Amazon-backed BrightFarms, AeroFarms, and Plenty, reports Reuters.
An acceleration in funding for this industry lies ahead, after pandemic food disruptions - such as infections among migrant workers that harvest North American produce - raised concerns about supply disruptions, said Joe Crotty, director of corporate finance at accounting firm KPMG, which advises vertical farms and provides investment banking services.
“The real ramp-up is the next three to five years,” Crotty said.
A typical vertical farm
A typical vertical farm (CC BY 4.0)
Vertical farming saves space
Vertical farms are a type of controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimize plant growth using soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. Vertical farms grow leafy greens indoors in stacked layers or on walls of foliage inside of warehouses or shipping containers.
The main advantage of utilizing vertical farming technologies is the increased crop yield that comes with a smaller unit area of land requirement.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), says urban farming increases food security at a time of rising inflation and limited global supplies. And the USDA is seeking members for a new urban agriculture advisory committee to encourage indoor and other emerging farm practices.
More about indoor farms, Food supply, Technology, Food security
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