Microgreens for major impact: UAE vertical farming pioneers launch direct-to-consumer online sales

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Top to bottom: Pea shoots and bull’s blood among microgreens available online ©Madar Farms
Top to bottom: Pea shoots and bull’s blood among microgreens available online ©Madar Farms

Related tags: Middle east, Uae, vertical farming, ecommerce, Vegetable

UAE vertical farming pioneers Madar Farms is selling its ‘microgreens’ direct to consumers for the first time, after enjoying initial success with the food service and hotel industries (HORECA).

There are seven microgreens available to consumers on three online platforms, namely Barakat, FreshOnTable and NarinPort.

The seven varieties of microgreens are pea shoots, arugula, bull’s blood, tendril peas, daikon radish, amaranth and shisho britton.

According to Haifa Abdullah Alrasheed, brand manager at Madar Farms, the company intends to launch more products online over the next few weeks.

Food security

Alrasheed told FoodNavigator-Asia​ about 90% of food in the UAE was imported, and underlined the immense challenges of traditional agricultural practices due to the hot and dry climate.

Alrasheed said the company utilises the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology and other farming techniques such as vertical growing to be able to grow produce indoor 365 days a year, stressing that being able to grow food all-year round was crucial to tackling food security challenges in the region.

 “We are also being sustainable as we use approximately 95% less water than traditional farming. This is extremely important as we do not have to rely on rainfall or the climate​.”

Consumer retail

The company launched in 2017, focusing on B2B in the UAE.

According to Alrasheed, the move to target consumer retail was due to several reasons.

We are aware that given the current health and economic challenges due to COVID-19, more people are turning towards choosing local-grown produce in during these unprecedented times​.”

Alrasheed added that when goods are imported between countries, produce can lose around 45% of its nutrition before it is even consumed.

By partnering with the three online platforms, we are responding to this demand and consumers in the country will have more choices to enjoy our produce that is shipped not only in hours but is also rich in flavour and nutritious​.”

By offering directly to consumers is a big moment for Madar Farms. We already raised awareness through the education of the importance of sustainable food and local-grown food and by reaching out to consumers, and we can help change their mindsets that consuming our products can not only benefit themselves but also the UAE​.”

Future directions

Alrasheed told us the company was seeking to increase its supply and presence in the UAE. By the end of this year, Madar Farms will operate the world’s largest commercial-scale indoor tomato farm that will use only LED lighting to grow its tomatoes.

The 5,000 squared-metre facility will be located at Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, and have a daily capacity of 1 ton of tomatoes.

The facility will also grow microgreens, triple the amount that is being produced now.

Alrasheed said the company had recently partnered with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to secure investment for its tomato farm, as well as a research and development facility that could quantify production output measured against environmental inputs (water and electricity).

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