Vertical farms are an effective solution to issues of agricultural land constraint the world over.
India presently has over 40% of its land under cultivation and only over 22.00% under forest cover as opposed to the figure of 33.33% prescribed by our National Forest Policy . Ongoing efforts to combat climate change require, besides Greenhouse Gas Emissions reductions, further afforestation that comes with attached monetary incentives in the form of saleable Carbon Credits. This poses a dilemma for policy-makers over land-allocation and prioritisation of agriculture, industry and forestry.
The rapidly rising population elicits the demand of food-grains to an estimated 9 billion people by the year 2050 , which necessitates additional cultivation of 109 hectares of land under conventional practices. FAO and NASA figures state that 80% of land fit for cultivation is already in use. In view of exhaustion of cultivable land, an ideal solution lays in vertical farming, conceptualised by professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University, Dickson Despommier. Vertical Farming employs the use of vertical high-rises (or “farmscrapers”) for agriculture, profiting from the fact that in the event of exhaustion of scope for surficial expansion, we can extend skywards. This methodology, though already in use for housing and offices, could be successfully extended to farming. Urban wastelands can be utilised for these establishments, as an added advantage.
Indoor farming is a relatively recent phenomenon expended for cultivation of tomatoes, spinach and numerous herbs and spices. The technique, however, is underdeveloped and requires a new scientific and technical approach. Vertical Farming aims to scale up this technology to meet the requirements of the additional 3 billion population forecasted in terms of large-scale cultivation of varied crops.