Empty supermarket shelves are now commonplace for many like us. And even when the shelves in supermarkets are refilled, long queues of customers can be seen entering these stores.
We are repeatedly told that there is no shortage of food but the real problem is to get this food to the people.
Due to the Corona epidemic, workers are unable to reach the fields due to restrictions on the movement of people, restrictions on the import of goods, which has severely affected the wholesale (wholesale) business due to which Food production is slowly declining, albeit temporarily.
But do we have a better source of food production?
To reduce the distance to the food supply line, we need to grow food closer to consumers. There are many places in the central areas of many big cities that can be used to ensure food supply to the citizens.
In the United States, Northern Europe, and Canada, for example, all fresh vegetables and fruits are imported in winter and spring because consumers want access to fresh vegetables and fruits all year round.
It’s nice to talk about growing food close to consumers, but it takes a lot of land to make that possible.
With the help of modern scientific equipment, industrial scale farming has reduced food prices and made it easier for people to access food.
But building large farms requires large tracts of land and large machinery that is not possible close to consumers.
If we want to grow food close to cities where there are more consumers, then we have to find land to grow food in cities.
One solution is to grow vegetables and fruits on state-of-the-art indoor farms, as is happening in Japan and Scotland.
But cities are already overcrowded and it is not easy to find a place to set up a modern food production factory. If we look for places in cities, we will find many places.
In the French capital, Paris, for example, there are 600 hectares of underground vacant land that is unoccupied.
These are underground parking spaces. In France in the 1970s, each flat had to have two parking spaces.
Noel Gertz, chief executive of a company called Cycloponic, says the underground parking lots are empty. To understand the 700 hectares of vacant land, it is necessary to understand that a farm in the United States consists of an average of 170 hectares, or 420 acres.
Gertz says it’s hard to convince people that these spaces can be used for anything other than parking.
But Gertz plans to use the space. They want to turn underground car parks into agricultural farms and grow mushrooms and chickens there.
Both of these crops can be easily grown underground.
But Gertz also acknowledges that 700 hectares (1720 acres) is more than just mushroom and cassava cultivation.
But Cycloponic’s idea is about new food production projects. “We have given space to an NGO that provides food to 4,000 people in hospitals every day. Similarly, another company is delivering 500 to 1,000 food packets a day to people in Paris from an underground farm.
We have food delivery and cold storage facilities and these are the things we need to start a new food business.
Gertz wants to build small underground kitchens. “Eventually, some food may be grown underground, but it will be prepared, cooked and delivered to consumers from the center of Paris.”
Gertz says the hardest part was getting permission from the fire department to start an underground business, but now cities are slowly changing their minds about farming.
Vegetables are now being grown in a bunker built to protect civilians during World War II in London
Some urban farmers are looking for new ways to produce food using modern technology. Square Routes is making changes to shipping containers to make farm farms.
“People all over the world want food, but moving it from one place to another is the real problem,” says Tobias Pegs, chief executive of Square Roots.
Why not move the data from one place to another instead of moving the data there. In Geneva, for example, the temperature and the environment in which the bezel is grown, the information should be transferred to Paris and grown in Paris.
Square Roots is producing the same bezel in Paris, combining information on air humidity, light, heat, soil and nutrition to create a similar artificial environment in Paris.
Square Roots is now growing turnips, eggplants, strawberries, and tomatoes, beyond growing herbs and leaves in three years. Square Roots has also organized a competition to eat the Hebaneros peppers grown in containers. Hebanerosis is one of the hardest types of peppers.
The question of what and where you can grow is an economic one. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and convert solar energy into biomass. The heavier the vegetable, the more biomass it will contain, so you will need more energy which will increase the cost.
But herbs such as mint, basil, green onions and leafy vegetables are low in biomass. Pegasus says they can sell a product in the market that is competitive in price with organic vegetables.
“When I go to the supermarket and there are vegetables and fruits lined up according to their density, I think we would like to see our vegetables in the same line. Our tomatoes and strawberries are quite commercially viable, and we’re moving on from there. “Farmer farmers can’t increase or decrease sun exposure to reduce their production costs, but we can do it here with the help of technology.”
Like Paris, there are countless car parking spaces in the United States that are not being used. An estimated two billion parking spaces are vacant in the United States, and if these spaces include businesses that closed during a possible recession, millions of square feet of built-up area would be available.
Pegs says local authorities have already developed regulations on shipping containers, which means converting containers for farming is easier than building a new one.