Toshiba Corporation is the latest among technology and consumer electronics conglomerates in Japan that has successfully cultivated vegetables indoors.
But the Japanese multinational firm is interested not only in selling vegetables; it also hinted that it is keen to offer equipment to those interested to set up their own plant factory.
Toshiba, which manufactures digital products, home appliances and electronic devices, started its vegetable farm in an idle facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture last September. The Toshiba Clean Room Farm Yokosuka is an enclosed plant factory which employs state-of-the-art technology to raise vegetable crops such as romaine and frillice lettuces, baby spinach, Swiss chard and mizuna, a Japanese favourite.
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Aiming to address not just food security, which is highly at risk due to water shortage and lack of fertile land, Toshiba said it also hopes to meet the growing demand for healthier food that’s free from fertiliser and chemical contamination.
“Filters clean the air pumped into the growing area, while water purifiers allow use of ordinary water fortified with nutrients. This ensures an almost aseptic environment that cuts germs on the vegetables to a-thousandth that of the same vegetables grown outdoors,” Toshiba says in its latest blog.
The Japanese manufacturer says it grows the vegetables through hydroponics - using water as ‘soil’, which is not an entirely new technology. However, the farm is run on a production-management system similar to that which runs its electronics components production.
The vegetables factory is equipped with fluorescent lighting with an output wavelength optimised for vegetable growth; air-conditioning systems that maintain constant temperature and moisture levels; remote monitoring systems to track growth; and sterilisation systems for packaging materials, explains the electronics maker.
Toshiba’s target is at least three million bags of produce annually and the company plans to expand through a large-scale plant factory outside Japan.