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Sustainable Food in the Desert

Article > Serenity Farms: A New Model for Sustainable Food Security in Arid Regions

Food security is a critical issue worldwide, particularly in arid regions, where unfavorable local production conditions mean a dangerous dependency on food imports. In Saudi Arabia, nearly 80% of all food is imported, making the country and others like it extremely vulnerable to shocks and systemic disruptions to the global food system. Industry-changing Serenity Farms offers Saudi Arabia and similar regions a sustainable and profitable way to produce food locally, creating jobs, and using only sunlight and seawater.

Under the vision of Haydar Alireza and his team at Reza Investment Company, the Serenity Farms concept was developed, designed, and engineered together with Except Integrated Sustainability. Serenity Farms is set to deliver a revolutionary greenhouse facility for sustainable, profitable food production, starting in the Jeddah region. At 110-hectares, it is more than five times larger than other sustainable greenhouse facilities.

Addressing the Water Challenge

Over the last 50 years, Saudi Arabia has depleted over 80% of its fossil water resources, seriously threatening the fragile, groundwater-dependent agriculture that exists in the country. By employing Dutch greenhouse and innovative water-saving technologies, Serenity Farms stands to save over 95% of water compared to existing open-field agriculture in the region. Additionally, by using desalination technology, the water it does use is renewable and sustainably-sourced. 

Addressing the Food Security Challenge

The vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s food is imported, mainly through refrigerated freight, making it not only expensive, but also incredibly polluting. Serenity Farms reduces fossil fuel demands and saves 57 metric tons of CO? emissions per year. That is the equivalent of driving one million kilometers by car every day. Furthermore, Serenity Farms’ technology allows us to feed nearly 2500 people per hectare of desert, a significant achievement compared to the 190 people per hectare currently fed on open-field agriculture in Saudi Arabia. 

Addressing the Post-Fossil Fuel Challenge

Saudi Arabia is looking towards the future, intending to use its current oil-based economic power to build itself a new, post-oil economy. The country’s ambitions are detailed in its Vision 2030 strategic plan, which lays out the national roadmap towards this post-fossil future. Serenity Farms supports this vision by increasing local food security and production, employing more than 750 people directly, and stimulating further long-term and high-quality jobs, education, and economic growth. It will set the precedent for a post-oil food production industry, and aspires to make a meaningful contribution to a sustainable global food production system.

 Except has led the project with support from Reza, KAUST, Delphy, PWC, and various greenhouse specialists in the Netherlands. We are now finalizing partnerships and applying for planning permission to commence development. Want to know more? Reach out to us at info@except.nl or read more about Serenity Farms on our website


Except Integrated Sustainability

Tom Bosschaert

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