A 2.0 farm to grow vegetables in the Arabian desert
Omar Al-Jundi has developed a cutting-edge vertical farm. Located in the heart of the city of Dubai, his company, Badia Farms, aims to feed this arid region where nothing grows. While preserving natural resources and maintaining a short distribution cycle for its fresh and tasty products, Omar Al-Jundi has managed to create a real oasis in the desert!
Omar Al-Jundi holds a degree in industrial engineering but has quite a hectic career! A former banker who changed for the hospitality sector, he opened the first lounge in Jeddah. A burst of restaurants followed up before he sold his shares to enter his father’s business. As an insatiable entrepreneur who dreamt of becoming the next Jeff Bezos, he then began a professional and existential search looking for his calling. Passionate about new tech and driven by the need to undertake something that makes an impact, he started to travel the world to find a genius idea.
During a trip to Egypt while visiting experimental orangeries, the magic happened ! He was fascinated and intrigued in the same time by the spectacles of these plants growing soilless and the unknown miracle of nature bringing inner peace and relaxing. Following this initiatory trip into the world of ultra-tech agriculture, Omar decides to follow trainings in disciplines which were still very exotic for the common people, but well known of the modern farmers such as aquaponics, aquaculture and hydroponics.
A farm at the forefront of technology
Freshly trained and surrounded with a highly skilled team of 12 farmers, Omar Al-Jundi sharpened his vertical farm concept. He started his business, Badia Farms, which means oasis in Arabic, and set up his first farm in December 2017, in Al Quoz, a district in the heart of Dubai. This 850m² facility includes a cultivation room freed from climatic constraints thanks to fertilization made on recycled fabric carpets, a staging of the plantations, and an irrigation system whose water can be recycled up to nine times. The meticulous lighting is adapted to each type of crop and plunges this ecosystem into a cosmic rose atmosphere.
Each plantation has its own ratio of nutrients: potassium, calcium, magnesium; pathogens or bacteria that may be in the recycled water are eradicated by concentrated oxygen and UV. Eighteen different varieties grow together, especially hybrid seeds such as lemon basil or cinnamon kale, but also wasabi, radish, mustard … These original and tasty products are fought over by the greatest local chefs.
A sustainable farm
In this environment whose cycle is completely controlled and optimized, there is no need for pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals. Furthermore, the ecosystem developed by the Badia Farms team uses 90% less water than open field cultures. By exclusively supplying Dubai’s greatest restaurants, Omar distributes the fruits of his work in short cycle, therefore the carbon footprint of the food is considerably reduced; while the other gastronomic products that fill the plates of these starred addresses travel on average more than 3,000 miles.
In addition to being sustainable, the solution is already producing more than 200 boxes of fresh vegetables a day. These high quality and extremely tasty products are sold in more than 60 great hotels, restaurants and cafes in the city. Badia in planning a new facility in Jeddah by 2020 and already has 30 customers in the Emirates, who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of its state-of-the-art equipment in the federation.