Korean AgriTech startup ‘N.Thing’ is all set to grow vegetables in the desert’s barren lands of the Middle East. In 2020, the agricultural innovation startup had announced its plans to start producing locally grown fresh vegetables for communities in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
Now, in May 2021, N.Thing has signed an agreement with Sarya Holdings in the United Arab Emirates for the construction of a $3 million vertical farm. The construction for smart farming containers will start from next month. “The UAE reached out to N.Thing as food security emerged as a key issue amid the coronavirus outbreak,” a company official said in a media statement.
N.Thing to expand CUBE containers in UAE
The UAE’s Sarya Group, which has signed a contract with N.Thing, is responsible for the launching and operation of vertical farms, Smart Acres in the agricultural sector. With this contract, N.Thing has set a foothold to discuss ways to expand the construction of additional vertical farms in UAE by December 2021, starting with the entry of CUBE, a modular container vertical farm.
N.Thing’s modular container vertical farm is a hydroponic smart farm that can manage the growth period and quality of crops by controlling the growing environment of crops through ‘Cube OS’, a self-developed solution based on the Internet of Things (IoT).
Sarya had formed its own dedicated team from February 2020 for the technology verification (PoC) of CUBE, and Batavia, Kale, and Boston lettuce in eight test containers. A technical verification was carried out for the whole process of formalization, seedling, cultivation, and harvesting of four vegetables of oakleaf, the growth cycle, nutrition and quality of crops, technical perfection and cultivation suitability of N.Thing. Through this verification, the production scale of up to 12 tons per year at the container vertical farm built in the UAE was confirmed, and the CUBE technology succeeded in shipping crops with an average of 200 g, far exceeding the initial target weight of 140 g per crop. The verification was completed with high satisfaction for both the crop and the crop, drawing the attention of the local industry.
The growing market for vertical farming technology
In March 2020, N.Thing signed a business agreement with a Korean conglomerate to develop a vertical farming business in the Middle East. Right after the agreement, N.thing immediately started the first step by exporting its own vertical farm ‘Planty Cube’.
Planty Cube is a modular vertical farm with technology to cultivate high-quality vegetables in a barren desert environment. Planty Cube in the Middle East will cultivate romaine lettuce, and more variety of crops will be added depending on the profitability based on the market data in Abu Dhabi. They will be distributed to local food markets through an operating partner.
The Middle East has been struggling with growing vegetables due to the harsh desert climate. So, the government is trying to invest in the vertical farming business as an alternative technology for food self-sufficiency. As a result, many major vertical farm companies have entered the market.
“Those who influence the Middle East vertical farm market will soon lead the industry on a global scale. It’s proof that n.thing’s technology is globally competitive as we are participating in this market as a startup. We will move quickly and boldly to make a milestone in the industry,” said Han Seung-soo, CSO of N.Thing.