The world’s population is expected to increase by about 3 billion by 2050 and it is forecasted that nearly 80% of that population will live in urban centres. Africa’s urban growth rate is at 3.5% the highest in the world and double the world average. The challenge of growing enough healthy food for Africa’s growing cities is enormous. At the same time, the stresses of climate change, and the declining availability of arable land and fresh water are challenging conventional agriculture as never before.
Many countries and companies are expressing strong interest in vertical farming business and urban agriculture. It is a solution to the weather and pests problems, food security, climate change and environmental preservation. Commercialization of vertical farming is catching on in Asia, Europe, USA, Russia and now Africa. Many private companies are interested in growing crops in hydroponic, aquaponics and aeroponics systems in warehouses, greenhouses, containers and high scrapers. There is also a burgeoning interest in the production of medicinal plants in vertical farms.
Africa has unique opportunities for vertical farms. Feeding Africa’s rapidly growing urban population will continue to be a daunting challenge, but vertical farming – and its variations – is one of the most innovative approaches that can be tapped into as part of an effort to grow fresh, healthy, nutritious and pesticide-free food for consumers.