New Zealand's first commercial vertical farm has received a 3.5 million grant from the government.
The grant was a part of the Ministry of Primary Industries' Sustainable Food and Fibres Futures programme, which aims to support ongoing research and development for new crops and varietal development.
On March 21, Agriculture Minister, Damien O'Connor paid a visit to Greengrower's controlled environment farming facility, located in Hamilton's Waikato Innovation Park.
"Last year our food and fibre exports hit a record 53.1 billion and we are investing to future-proof this growth by being the best farmers for the world," said O'Connor.
"As farmers and growers around the world grapple with less predictable growing conditions due to climate change, it's key that we are looking to innovative solutions to shore up our production and food security. Through leading with new technology, we can help other countries to do the same."
With Greengrower's controlled environment farming facility, its lettuce and leafy greens are unaffected by the weather, or other agricultural issues like chemical run-off or soil degradation. Its produce is also free from pesticides, meaning it can be consumed without washing.
Chief executive of Greengrower, Tom Schuyt, said that his plants grew at twice the rate in a controlled environment, in comparison to traditional production. He is confident that his company can help reduce the supply-and-demand induced pricing fluctuations for consumers.
"As the climate continues to change, it is imperative to keep our primary sector agile and adaptable to future-proof our food producing systems. This is just one of the many projects that the government has driven through Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures," concluded O'Connor.