A pinboard by
A S M Mainul Hasan

A current PhD student in Molecular Plant Genetics who has a masters in Agrobiotechnology


Thinking about how to promote food sufficient urbanization - think no more

It is forecasted that global population would rise to 9.6 billions and 80% of this people would be living in urban areas. Currently, conventional land based agriculture is the main source of food production which causes high water pollution and also accounts for 15% of green house gas emission. Besides, such kind of farming requires long distance transport of the crops from the field to the supermarket, which is quite expensive in most cases and causes environmental damage due to burning of fossil fuels.

In order to tackle the issues of global food security in eco-friendly way scientists are generating various ideas regularly. Among these, the scheme of vertical farming is very promising, which proposes cultivating crops in skyscrapers. There are many benefits that are associated with this unique agricultural practice. First and foremost, crops could be grown throughout the year under well-regulated, artificial growth condition. Besides, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides could be avoided by implementing an organic approach. Likewise, yield damage due to environmental disasters such as flood, drought, frost as seen in natural farmlands would not be possible in such indoor facilities. Moreover, produce could be sold in the same infrastructure that would eliminate transport cost and pollution.

On the contrary, a crucial demerit of vertical farming is that plants would require artificial light, which would be expensive. However, the good news is that scientists already found a solution to this problem. They are proposing construction of anaerobic digesters in which non-edible parts of crops from the vertical farm would be exploited to generate methane that would supplement the energy need of the farm.

Singapore, which is a land scarce country, has already built world’s first commercial vertical farm with over 100 towers having 9-meter height. This is just the beginning. As more and more people moving to the cities worldwide everyday, vertical farming would probably be a major strategy to create food-sufficient urban centers.


The Economics of Vertical Farming: exploring the feasibility

Abstract: Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum Proceedings, Volume , Issue 2013, November 2013. Today, over 800 million hectares of land is committed to soil-based agriculture in order to support the World's population. Significantly, it is predicted that the World's population will rise to at least 8.6 billion within the next 50 years. This, together with the implications of climate change will inevitably lead to challenges in terms of food shortages if we continue to rely on conventional agricultural methods. As such, vertical farming may provide one of the most promising advanced options for meeting food demands in terms of quantity and quality through an urban farming solution. This is particularly the case in countries with very large urban populations, limited agricultural land, prone to natural disasters, or unable to meet their own food requirements. Vertical farming typically involves hydroponically or aeroponically growing plants in an artificially controlled environment in multi-layers on each floor within multi-storey or even high-rise buildings. The concept of vertical farming has been drawing unprecedented attention from academia to business communities for the past decade. However, despite a number of obvious advantages it has yet to progress beyond conceptual stage except a few experimental small scale examples existing in developed countries. The largest barrier to the promotion and realization of vertical farming is not the availability of technology or the ability to design and construct such a structure but the uncertainty of its economic feasibility. As such, can investors and developers make an acceptable profit and can the consumer afford the price of the produce' Although a few architects, engineers and economists have attempted financial calculations based on capital budget or operating cost, they have tended to be crude and based on certain particular circumstances or case-by-case study. This has resulted in significant limitations particularly the fact that these attempts cannot be transplanted to other cases or places. These different calculation methods are presented and analysed in this paper. More importantly, the design of vertical farms can be various, but it needs a 'benchmark' to provide more realistic economic costing. For any potential investor or developer, it may be preferable that a more accurate budget estimation is obtained at the very beginning to inform decision-making. However, the dilemma is, without detailed design drawings, the estimation is likely to be inaccurate, beyond a specific tolerance. Indeed, because the vertical farm is a relatively new building typology, without much statistical data there is no current 'cost model' for reference. Based on an elemental cost plan method, this paper proposes a modeling method for vertical farm cost estimation. The paper will outline and analyse various variables that may circumstantially influence the total budget of a vertical farm in different phases (design, construction and operation). Methodological considerations are also illustrated in terms of data resource, model validation, model transferability (re-usability of integrated modeling approaches to other research contexts) and linking of model components. Keywords: vertical farming; economic consideration; cost estimation; modelling methodology; design benchmark.

Pub.: 22 Nov '13, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Food Ecologies in Qatar. Interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable systems: Food prints, food chains & food urbanisms

Abstract: Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum Proceedings, Volume , Issue 2013, November 2013. The desert climate of Qatar presents numerous challenges to the sustainable and secure provision of food for its increasing number of residents. This research looks at how the producing of food can be implemented in a resource efficient and sustainable way, using systems thinking to maximize the quality and quantity of food produced and to minimize the energy and resources consumed. Approached from a spatial and urban design and planning perspective, this research looks at the different ways that Food Production can be integrated into the cities and landscapes of Qatar, both in new projects and in regeneration or retrofitting projects. The Method of research looks at international trends and case studies to see how they can be applied to the context of Doha and Qatar. The importance of systems thinking implies that the food product is evaluated and measured in its total chain, as well as the energy and resources consumed and recycled. Another important aspect, which complements the quantitative measures, is the quality of the food produced, and the quality of the urban landscapes that result from the implementation of edible plants and trees. Increasingly, we are becoming aware of the importance of pesticide and additive free nutrition and these new ways of producing food must also provide more harmonious environments and balanced diets. Results. A number of case studies developed with students in the Masters in Urban Planning Design at Qatar University developed scenarios to implement different food systems into the urban and architectural landscapes of Qatar, from individual gardens in compounds and villas to vertical farming in high rise buildings, and from University Campuses to reclaimed waste water ponds. Conclusions. New Food Ecologies for Qatar imply that we not only design our buildings and landscapes in new ways to integrate the production of healthy food and medicinal herbs, but that these new visible ways of nourishing the populations includes an embellished environment and a more aware and discerning approach to the consumption of food, in short, a more holistic relationship to what our bodies consume.

Pub.: 22 Nov '13, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Designing productive landscapes in an emerging desert metropolis: The Case of Doha

Abstract: Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum Proceedings, Volume , Issue 2013, November 2013. As Qatar is preparing to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and submitting a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, the country is pushing forward with large infrastructural developments which include public and private transport, tourism and hospitality venues, as well as a number of cultural spaces and educational institution. While these will respond to the logistical and consumption needs of such Mega Events and the aspirations to develop a diversified economy, another question related to more basic consumption needs is that of Food Production and Food Security. The State of Qatar - similar to its dryland neighbors - faces limited land and water resources, and challenging soil typology restraining its agricultural production. Qatar relies on current levels of domestic agricultural output that satisfy no more than ten percent of total national food consumption needs and 99% of the water supply is provided by desalination. In the light of these extreme conditions, it is important to find new approaches to design strategies that create a symbiosis between buildings and landscape, and to explore the possibilities of creating urban food systems and edible landscapes. As a new paradigm for the Design Disciplines, the question of Food Security prompts a necessity for innovative projects that integrate food production, maximizing productivity and minimizing land use, water and energy resources. A "systems approach" to design that consumes less resources, recycles waste, and educates the consumer to have a more "nimble" footprint on the planet is the objective of new design approaches that are "regenerative" in nature. Productive urban landscapes are implementations of this regenerative approach, which promote circular rather than linear systems, and which seek to generate surplus outputs rather than zero-energy balance. The edible landscapes vary in scale and typology, from the garden lot and pocket community garden or greenhouse, to the large scale landscapes that combine food production and leisure, and vertical farming in dense cityscapes. Rooftops of shopping malls and parking infrastructures and other industrial buildings can accommodate greenhouses and greenroofs, using recycled grey water and organic waste with aquaponic systems to grow food. A series of speculative designs to propose new scenarios for Food Urbanisms in Doha and Qatar developed by students at Qatar University are presented here, and this ongoing research on new productive landscapes for Qatar is expected to contribute to the establishment of new "consumer-productive landscapes" and possibly to the development of a Food Security Master Plan being established by the Qatar National Food Security Program.

Pub.: 22 Nov '13, Pinned: 23 Apr '17