Hustle Ideas

Vertical Farming – Solution To Africa’s Food Problem?

Image Credits: Wade Griffith

Vertical farming is a relatively new development – something that is getting attention today because of the benefits that have been found in it. For one thing, it makes agriculture possible in the urban areas – when formerly the sheer amount of acreage needed made it impossible.

The idea is simple; the crops are planted in stacks or shelves – one above the other. This often incorporates other ideas; sometimes soilless farming is incorporated, sometimes aquapondics is incorporated, and sometimes other techniques may be rolled in.

Nevertheless, the principle remains the same; to maximize how much plants can be grown in a small space. This is how it works.

How Does Vertical Farming Work?

Rather than planting the crops – in this case vegetables – directly on the soil, first build shelves, which is why the alignment of the farm will be vertical. The shelves can be made of wood or metal, or a combination of both. The uprights can be made of metal, while the horizontals can be made of wood.

Sometimes the horizontals can be controlled to maximize the sunlight; they can be adjusted upwards or downwards using simple levers that may be moved by chains and gears. It is not particularly complex, and not very expensive to create.

The horizontals can be made of wood planks, on top of which can sit trays of soil, or pots of water, into which the plants – vegetables in this case, are planted.

Hydropondics is probably the best fit for vertical farming because it removes the need for watering the plants – which would be quite problematic, especially because some vertical farms can be stacked quite high.

Artificial lights have now been incorporated into vertical farms, and they can boost crop yields by several times. LED lights are very cheap to run.

Vertical farming can be done in open spaces, although it is mostly done in controlled environments, with great advantages.

Advantages Of Vertical Farming

Good Use Of Space

One of the great things about vertical farming is that it makes use of available space. A few small square meters of a residential backyard can produce an amazing amount of food. Other disused spaces can also be put to good use through vertical farming – shipping containers, abandoned mines, empty warehouses, disused buildings, and so on.

One of the great perils of city life is that there never seems to be enough space to do anything. Vertical farming does not need space; it only needs not to be obstructed vertically.

But that is not the reason why it is becoming so popular. That has to do with one of the fundamental needs of man.


Man cannot live without food. With over 7 billion people on the planet, it seems that there is no need to emphasize the great need for an increased food supply. However, there is need to spell out ways by which that increased food supply can be actualized.

Vertical farming can increase the food supply, and bring down the cost of food. This is great news for Africa and some parts of Southeast Asia where populations suffer from malnutrition, and other woes associated with poverty.

Establishing vertical farms can make good money for enterprising people, especially because there is an overwhelming demand for the food. In fact, people with experience in agriculture will appreciate this type of farming because it is more reliable.

More Reliable, More Predictable

Because vertical farming is often done in controlled environments, some find it a lot easier to predict the crop yield. Disease and pests are almost completely ruled out of the calculations because the environment is controlled.

With proper design of the farm, pests will not be able to get in. this is especially true if a controlled environment is used. A controlled environment could be a Greenhouse, Warehouse, Shipping Container, or Mine Shaft.

Part of the construction should include nets, this will keep all kinds of crawling insects out.

With this kind of predictable yield, you can create a solid value chain.

More CEOs

With a sustainable business set-up like this, Vertical Farming can help one build a solid value chain in agriculture, which means we can see some big businesses springing up all over the place. This will mean more jobs, more companies, and more CEOs.

The good thing about this kind of business is that it does not require the daily presence of the owner. It can be done via a kind of set-and-forget system in which the owner has told the workers what to do, and when to do it.

This is a much refined form of agribusiness; it is much neater, and much more profitable.

Disadvantages Of Vertical Farming

Cost Intensive

Land is a lot more expensive in urban areas, and it may also be expensive to build greenhouses, to purchase shipping containers, or to lease warehouses, mine shafts, or any other spaces where vertical farming may be practiced.

Constructing the shelves upon which the plants are stacked will also demand significant capital.

Few Crop Options

There are few crops suitable to this kind of farming; the most common crop is lettuce. While lettuce is great, it may soon become saturated, as more supply comes in without accompanying increases in demand.

Further Reading:

Vertical farming can make fresh food available. It can also provide jobs for people, and build wealth for investors. It has so much potential, and will surely become more popular as time goes on. With a high probability of success, this is something that could be worth the effort.

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