My Two Visits to VEGGITECH: Intelligent Digital Vegetables & Fruits Farms in Sharjah, UAE
(Anthony) Where are we going? We're going to the grain field. We're going to an extraordinary state of the art vegetable farm. We're driving for an hour to get to Sharjah.
I'm very excited! You too? They only have vegetables at this farm? There aren't any trees and whatnot? Eat tabbouleh. Let's go! ♪ (Abu Chadi singing) ♪ My name is Bhaskar. I'm the chief agronomy officer at VeggiTech SNASCO. What we do is basically we build and operate farms. My background is... I'm a post-graduate in agriculture from India.
I've got 23 years of experience in the Gulf and 4 years in India. So, a total of 26 years of experience in growing only. I've been growing, in the Gulf since 2000 [onwards], in greenhouses, vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, and you name it, indoors, outdoors, organic, net houses, etc. The journey starts from there.
The seeds are first sown into the tray, the pro tray. The tray contains potting soil or organic minerals, which is the starting of the seed. The seed germinates here, then it grows big and, by the time it grows big, at this stage, we pluck whatever crops, various crops.
Then, we transplant it into the greenhouses, open fields or wherever we need to transplant. This is lettuce crop. This is for indoor vertical farm. We sow them in rockwool media.
This is called rockwool. Each individual plant could be plucked. This is called a grow plug.
This grow plug will form roots and, then, you put it into your indoor vertical farm which has NFT trays, waterways, or DWC. You plug it into that and the plant grows around 30 days after around 10 days in the nursery. After 30 days, the plant is ready. This is especially the case for the indoor vertical farm. This is for the greenhouse. These are cucumber plants.
What we do is we just press them like this and pull the plant up. So, you have the whole plant here like this, with the roots. It is transplanted into the main bed inside the greenhouse. This is also grown hydroponically in the greenhouses. This is bhut jolokia which is called King chilli. It is very hot.
It has about 2.5 million Scoville heat units We are trying this year and it has grown successfully. Where are we? Yes, we're in the desert. It's about 55 degrees Celsius outside.
Do you know what 55 degrees means? If you put your hand under water, it's boiling hot it'll burn your hand. From 55 degrees, it drops down to about 29-30 when you enter the room which is very manageable. What you're going to see today is something I'd consider supernatural.
We're growing all types of vegetables and fruits, and everything else you can imagine in the desert. We're going to start our tour at VeggiTech whom I thank for having us here and letting us see how the world is developing and how the desert, the Arab countries, an area that's very hot is growing its crops. In the planting trays... Then, once it is germinated and ready for transplant we shift it into the main bed What you see here are tents the wind, if you feel like there's any, is coming from the strong fans. It's insanely hot. The humidity level is really high.
The phone screen becomes foggy when you walk out. Yet, everything is being cultivated here. I still can't believe it. We're at the start of our long tour. from room to room to room... This is the research and development (R&D) lab where we have trials of everything. We do. We fail, we learn, and we progress.
The temperature is maintained at a maximum of 22 degrees. This lab is like a proof of concept. We have an indoor vertical farm prototype, a small one, here. We also have the ones growing on the sides in passive hydroponics. It means we have a grew media.
What is grown in the NFT is active hydroponics which is grown directly in the water. We have two types of cultivation one is organic and one is hydroponic The organic is the one which we're doing directly in the soil. We're not using any sort of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. For hydroponics, we've got two types. One is active hydroponics, which uses water as a grow medium, nutrient-rich water. The other one is passive hydroponics, which uses a medium which is not soil so it is called soilless agriculture.
This is the control center. It could be controls automated onto your dashboard or even manually. This could control the light intensity from 400 to 600 nm. It could fluctuate depending upon the requirement of the crop and the stage of the growth of the crop. For example, now...
See. We have a light there on the top which is dark red in color. If I would like to increase... (Anthony) So, you imitate nature. Yeah, we imitate nature depending upon the requirement of the crop, especially if it's a flowering crop we need more of the red light. So, we give more of the red light.
If it is not required, we give less. This is the main system for the whole farm. This is the heart of the whole indoor vertical farm. This is a phaeton AC controller whereby we have A,B, and C tanks which contain concentrated nutrient solution. We fix it up depending upon the crop; how much is the recipe and what is the status of the crop. So, we fix it up This microprocessor-based nutrition system doses itself goes back into the growing area and comes back in the tank.
Once it goes back in the tank, The produce is great. I'm going to pluck it out and show you how as it is, it tastes great. The chocolate mint is incredible. It smells amazing. It's like we're outside and it's sunny. The birds will come out in a bit.
Beautifully done! Beautifully done! And, it smells amazing! I haven't eaten something this fresh before. I'm going to pluck it and show you... I haven't had something this fresh before. Amazing! Refreshing! Woah! Grown in a desert...
The water... it is a highly saline water maybe of 9-10 thousand ppm. We bring it to the aero-plant, desalination plant, which comes to around 150-200. It's potable drinkable. This water we use it for the plants. (Anthony) What's the temperature and humidity inside? The temperature inside is around 36 degrees.
The humidity is at a 65. This is a typical fan and pad type of evaporative cooling system greenhouse. We have a pad on one end and the fan on the other end. The cooling is based on the principle of evaporative cooling system. These are also hydroponically grown. They are not in the soil.
This is a basil crop, sweet Italian basil. Temperature control is done by 2 measures. One is to control the temperature and one is to control the light intensity.
Temperature control is done by a cooling pad system which is a pad made of cardboard and cellulose material. Water trickles through this pad, goes to the tank, and recirculates. Whatever air is there from outside hot air passes through this cooling system. The fan on the other end sucks it up. So, you have a cool breeze flowing.
That's one method. Number 2 is you have a shade net on the top. When you have a shade net on the top, which is called a solar thermal screen, it will help in reducing the light intensity inside so that will give you better climate control. These 2 are the methods through which we control. To control humidity, we have the fans.
If we feel there's higher humidity, we increase the number of fans so that the humidity is sucked up. Tandem cooling greenhouse is a concept patented by us only. It is not available anywhere. In a normal greenhouse, what you've seen there is that you have a pad there and a fan here, opposite each other. Here, you don't have the pads on the other end.
Fans are placed on the top. We have a double shell on the top, a double layer. Whatever cool air is passing through this place here it goes to the vent. There is a vent.
It goes up and passes again on the top and goes up. This is cooling here and it's cooling from the top also because hot air is light and it goes up, so that, hot air is being cooled. So, it's like a tandem. It's cold. It's really cold.
As we can see, there's kale here, on two levels. The ceiling is low. Air passes through the upper ceiling. It's colder. It's obviously more humid which is why, as you can see, I'm sweating.
Nonetheless, it's much colder and much more comfortable. They've taken advantage of each square centimeter. The air passes through here and circulates. Then, it's like you're in a garden in the mountains. Beautiful! What we did here is that to make maximum utilization of the space we're also using lower levels.
Here, we've grown the kale again. We put LED lights here because light will be an issue when you're growing underneath a table. We have the LED lights which are giving us the kale. There's maximum utilization of space.
Even in the middle, there are some pots. On the sides, we have some pots hanging. The plants are growing throughout. They have no period of rest. In the night, what happens is we give them light depending upon the requirement of the plant.
We give them 12 hours of daylight. Once we give it 12 hours of daylight, it sleeps during the rest but continues its production process of uptake of nutrients and everything. This tastes like my childhood, the wood sorrels that are incredibly sour. This is what we used to snack on as little kids. Wow! This in a sandwich... Amazing! Welcome Anthony! You're visiting one of the most modern technology-based farms Masood Hashim, CEO of SNASCO group.
We're a diversified investment group and this is one of our projects where we invested because of COVID where the main thing was food safety so we want to make Emirates one of the food safety countries (Anthony) This is... Long kale. I feel like a goat today. They're delicious.
Fresh! They're not sprayed with chemicals. They're ready to eat. I forgot to tell him that he can't leave me here alone or else I'll eat them all.
Look at what's going to happen. To make an all-encompassing salad, this, as we said, is very sour, and this is kale, which is mostly flavorless. We put them alongside each other and wrap them up. It's a complete salad! Kale! I'll call it lemony kale.
Delicious! Delicious! We have to control humidity by using the fans to extract the moisture in the air inside the greenhouse. We can bring down the rate of humidity but actual humidity remains inside the greenhouse When you put in the fans, it is sucked out. The fans have to work more.
As you can see, I'm all wet now. It's insanely humid inside. It feels like I'm in the rainforest. A peacock and other animals might as well emerge.
We're using all the spaces which are empty beside the green house to cultivate aloe vera. Aloe vera is used here for food purposes not for the cosmetic or pharmaceutical industry because we're not producing in big quantities. We're giving the gel to restaurants to make the smoothies or maybe we could use it for household applications on the head and hair and all that: body care. It is a completely fresh gel which we pack and sell.
(Anthony) Why is it your favorite place? Because we're growing the best fruit: fig. This is officially a garden! Figs in the soil of a desert! I have to taste them. I found a big one! Wait. Look at it with all its milk. This white fig...
It's very sweet on the inside. It's great! The skin is a bit hard. But it's great! I'm not sharing! Nope! This is a very good one. This one has perfectly ripened.
(Anthony) You're proud of your figs. Yes, I love them. (Anthony) Very proud of your figs! It's very difficult to grow here in this climate See the humidity here. See the climatic conditions.
But still, the plants are healthy because we are giving it the best nutrition, organically grown, and we're giving it the best care. Have things changed in the world? In Lebanon, we say that figs must be grown at a specific altitude in a specific village. Everything has changed and one can grow everything in the desert now.
Wow! Impressed! There are two Egyptian varieties of figs that we're growing inside the green house. One is called Barshoumi which is red in color. The other one is the Jassim fig which is white in color. I'm still stunned! I can't believe what I'm seeing. There's a huge amount of greenery and fruits We're next to the melons now.
Yellow melons. Huge! (Anthony) So, inside you have a beehive? Yes, this is a beehive. There are bees. They help in the pollination of the flowers. Once pollination is done... because it's not a cross-pollinated crop, you have to help it in pollination (Anthony) Do they give honey? The bees make honey, of course, but we're not interested in the honey We're interested in the bees working and going from flower to flower.
When they go to the male flower and then they go to the other flower which may be a female flower, that's when pollination happens. Bees that make honey in the desert! Woah! We have strawberries here. We're doing our best to cultivate strawberries in the hot summer. which is around 50 outside. We have a fan and a pad type of cooling system along with the thermal shade screen on the top.
This helps in reducing the light intensity plus it also helps in reducing the temperature. Next month, when you visit, we will offer you a strawberry platter. Next month... we give you strawberries in summer. We at SNASCO Investments have about 200,000 square meters of farms We've invested in farming in the UAE after some consideration. and after we brought experts to the UAE we discovered that we could grow any crop we wanted in any area with the required conditions Many of the investors were interested and are working with us. We're working in Saudi Arabia and Africa.
We're expanding and other investors want to grow in their countries in Qatar, Bahrain, and other countries. They use the expertise we have. We're very cooperative with anyone who'd like to team up to work in other countries, to build farms for them and share our expertise. We've tried a prototype for 1.5 years, passing through summers and winters, and decided to grow it.
We have copied and pasted it here with modifications. The modification is that we have a top and bottom layer. The bottom layer is growing baby arugula. The top layer is growing baby kale. The top layer and the bottom layer are growing individually because there's a space in between.
We don't have LED lights. We have left space. This is the idea of our CEO who has told us that instead of putting lights and spending all the energy and money put some space so the light comes in and travels to the crop beneath it. All the crops are growing perfectly well.
The temperature is beautiful. The LED lights you just put on. With sunlight, it grows like this. Instead of this, we said make space so the sunlight would spread everywhere This is lettuce. We don't have soil with it. We have nutrient rich water beneath it directly. The roots grow in this nutrient rich water.
Then, we grow it in hydroponics. This is actual hydroponics. This is also a similar technology.
On the top, there's enough space. We're doing hydroponics in cocopeat perlite medium. On the top, we're growing baby kale. We will be trellising them on the top here.
We try to create a small grape-vine-like structure so it spreads all over and you have the cherry tomatoes hanging. A different level! A complete different level! We're at the cucumber's spot now. I just want to pluck them and eat. A cucumber... A cucumber with a crunch to it Its skin is a bit harder but this cucumber is crunchy.
On the inside, it's super watery. Green... Green... Green...
Wow! You walk around and pick them. Each cucumber is small and cute. It needs to be eaten with a drink.
It has an extraordinary crunch to it. On the inside, it's watery. I cannot stop! Amazing! Amazing! Snacking cucumbers! In the heat at 50 degrees outside, peak hours, 45 around average, and the humidity is more than 100% outside. You've got these lovely things growing. Thank God they're okay.
They should be doing okay from the next September onwards. They'll be doing absolutely great! Now, we're going to go see the vertical farms. All these warehouses are vertical farms. It's farming that occurs via LED and is planted inside the hangars.
The produce is organic. Its grown vertically and takes up horizontal space such that it doesn't take up a lot of space and the quality is good. We'll show you the product in a bit.
It's like cultivating mushrooms. We entered a really cold room. It's practically a refrigerator It's stacked from the bottom to the top as if you had 100,000 meters. All of it is being grown and lit. You open the door and it's like it's sunny outside again. It's a replication of what happens outside in nature and it is amazing.
This is the indoor vertical farm. There are 9 layers. Each square meter has 48 planting spaces, growth spaces.
Each growth space has 2 plants. So, one square meter has 96 plants. So, 96 multiplied by 9 layers, as of now. It is an LED assisted, light assisted, indoor vertical farm with nutrient rich water being circulated in a closed circuit. Same system.
We're growing baby kale as of now. Baby kale will give you around 1 kilo of production one week at a time from one square meter We've got 9. So, 9 kilos per square meter multiplied by how many square meters we have here. Each room is about 250 square meters. Sorry, 500 square meters.
500 into 5 rooms is 2500 square meters of indoor vertical farms. This one has already been commissioned we have a fan system. We have a humidifier, a dosing unit, and everything in the backside of the system We also have the controls on the LEDs. We could increase or decrease the LED levels.
We could make it day for one tower and night for another tower. It's a great idea for an investment. Every square meter makes about 40-50 kg per year.
1 kg is sold for 70-80 dirham. Every square meter can be multiplied by 10. Imagine you have 200 square meters. And, not only that, but if it rains, it won't matter. If there's a storm, it won't matter. If there's wind, it won't matter. You're growing crops 24/24 365 days a year.
Here is the Sharjah Cooperative where we have our indoor vertical farm. You can select your choice of the leaf and buy it. The reason we make it here is to raise awareness so people understand how indoor vertical farms work. We are seeing a live lettuce stall in the middle of a shopping mall. We supply to the clients directly whatever they need.
If they need this particular lettuce, they'll say they need it. We uproot it, cut it, harvest it, pack it, and give it to them fresh. We also do the live plants here.
We keep transplanting them from our nurseries. We keep replenishing them. The system is all inside. The fertigation system and the lighting system are all well controlled and automated. Also, we do sell our other produce, whatever we have from the farm.
Because of the temperature which is already controlled in the mall, it is maintained at a very good temperature, We have our LEDs here. We have the fertigation system, which contains the nutrient solution. The temperature of the mall helps in maintaining the temperature of the water.
We have a closed circuit so it keeps going. This is the best solution for any mall for serving the clients directly from the farm. It's like a farm in the mall. He opened the door and the smell spread everywhere, the amazing smell of basil. Could anyone imagine that basil that smells this good and is the right color is grown in the desert? Under clean conditions ready to eat In the desert... Yep! Beyond organics...
Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, figs, and anything you might imagine in the desert and it feels like you're in a village up in the mountains. Welcome back again! This is the cucumber farm. This greenhouse has all the cucumbers. These are long cucumbers They'll start to produce in the next 15-20 days.
We have them staggered. You can see the baby cucumbers already growing here. We'll be starting to harvest in the next 1 week to 10 days. The flowering is there.
The main process of growing the crop in a climate-controlled greenhouse is we have a pad on the other side and a fan on this side. It is a fan and pad type of cooling system whereby we have the plastic on the top and we also cover the plastic during the summers with the shade net to reduce the light intensity. As of now, because we need light, we remove the shade on the top. Now, we are trying to cool the greenhouse and maintain the temperature and humidity. So, it's a fan and pad type of evaporative cooling system.
We have a level of moisture which is required in the greenhouse. Let's see how crunchy the cucumber is. We'll pluck it like so. It's still small and cute. Directly enjoy! Hear it! Smell... Smell it! Amazing Like perfume! Crunch it.
Smell it. Taste it. Excellent! This is made of cellulose and paper What happens is water trickles down through this it goes into the gutter below and comes back. So, this is a closed loop.
When this pad is wet, the fan which is on the other end sucks this cool air and takes it all into the greenhouse. Very cold! Very cool! Feels like air-conditioning! Very refreshing! Wow! No way! Wait! These are the same ones that I saw 3-4 months back that were half the size? Yes! They are the same. Those you saw maybe in the month of May or June; it was peak summer Oh my God! Now, they've grown so tall. (Anthony) And, they're loaded! They are producing every day.
Let's talk about how you can have figs in the desert. In the desert! How? You could do anything in the desert. You can do wonders in deserts once you implement technology along with the modern methods of growing. Technology itself will not help you.
There should be a grower to help the technology move forward. When you have all these things in place, you could do wonders in the desert. Only thing is you have to control temperature. take care of the soil, take care of the humidity and, of course, via agronomy to take care of the fertilizers, pest-control, and disease-control and you have to have an agronomic eye to identify the issues before they come. Then, you are safe.
You have two colors here, the red one and the yellow one. Yeah. This side is red and this is the yellow. (Anthony) You harvest once a year, right? Every day, throughout the year. 12 months of the year! We're harvesting 12 months of the year.
This is the beauty of growing them in the greenhouse. What we do is once the plant grows to a tall height... when it goes up, we cut the tip and make another sucker— it's called a side shoot, a sucker The sucker will come up. We maintain that sucker and that produces flowers. I see something big that we can taste over there, one that is open. Nice! Beautiful! Beautiful! Still young.
Sweet! Yes. Juicy. Juicy, sweet, and the fragrance.
Milky! Milky, yes. This is the secret behind growing figs. You don't have flowers. It is an inverted flower. It is basically a false flower whereby the flower is inside. When you open the fruit, you get a lot of small dots. These are all the stamens and pistils, all what a flower contains.
This inside is the flower You are eating the flower which is the fruit, false fruit. See. This is the fruit. This is the opening of the flower. These flowers are inverted. They don't open up. They open inside.
It's called inverted flowers. This is unbelievable! There's one season a year. Here, there are 12 months. One next to the other... they're hard. They're growing little by little on a small tree that's not old and woody. Fresh! New! It beats nature! I don't know.
It's breathtaking! They're small, loaded, and new. They were this tall. Now, they got this tall in less than 3 months.
We do have seasons for various crops and, also, the market demand. It is in the summertime that people look for more watery vegetables like cucumbers and melons. We grow melons in the month of March. In April, we do the sowing.
We start harvesting by June, July, August, September... It goes for 5-6 months. Then, we stop it and start doing vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers. That's where we try to keep changing the crops per season and market demand.
But, we could grow them throughout the year in the greenhouses Because the market demand is so high during that season, we produce more to get a premium price. Here, we are cultivating beef-tomatoes. It is directly in the soil.
The other cherry tomatoes that you saw were in hydroponics which was using an inert medium like a coco peat growing medium. This is also being done in the soil directly. We are giving it the exact nutrition which is required for its growth and its fruit development and high-yielding production.
Next, we go to the indoor vertical farm. It's the most advanced technology of growing crops in warehouses in 10 layers with LED assisted light. We need to get ourselves sanitized before we enter. So, come. Let us enter into this chamber
which is called an air-shower. Once we close this, look... Air-shower and then we move.
Hello! We go into the room that has the vertical farms. The room is closed in a big warehouse. The sunlight shines on your face. It's sunlight. We're probably at noon in the middle of an amazing summer day. Light is coming all over and all across.
The vegetables are producing 24/7/365 days a year When you pass through the air-shower, the main purpose is whatever pollen or whatever insect pest you are carrying on your body or clothes will be removed. This is a highly sanitized zone. All the workforce that come here have separate changing rooms. They have to change their clothes, sanitize themselves, wear the uniform and come in.
This is where we are doing the indoor vertical farm which is having around 10 layers with the LEDs and, of course, the water channels. This system of growing is called NFT, nutrient filling technology using nutrient-rich water to feed the root zone. I would like to show you the root zone. This water is fed to the root zone. It's a closed circuit.
Water travels back. It goes into the drainage. It comes back after it is treated with filtration, pH/EC stabilization, and nutrient stabilization. Again, it comes back. It is saving 95% of the water.
The same water is being reused again and again. Then, we have the whole system here for the controls of the LED. These are temperature, light, humidity, carbon dioxide, by humidity I mean relative humidity and the humidifiers, whatever they are using here could be put up onto your dashboard. You can just sit in your office and control the whole thing including the fertilizers, pests, and diseases.
Whatever could be done... You have sensors to sense each and every item. That will give you the best of the best crop quality production because it is minimal human intervention and maximum technology usage plus only during harvesting, we use the human to harvest. Till now, we haven't used any machine for harvesting.
We have the touch when harvesting. There's yellow zucchini and there's black zucchini that looks like a cucumber. Mostly, in villages, I eat zucchini raw.
The zucchini, then, is green. Can black zucchini be eaten raw? Yes. Can this be eaten raw? No.
On my way, I'll try this. Yellow zucchini is good as well. Green zucchini, black zucchini, and yellow zucchini put all of them in one bowl with cocktail sauce on the side and we have party! Mohamad from Pakistan also toured with me. We toured the place and his smile wouldn't leave his face. Thank you for your smile.
I want to tell you one last thing about aloe vera. Aloe vera is everywhere, in every corner, square meter, and every spot with sand that is uncultivated, they've planted aloe vera. All of these are used in skin care. Imagine if you have 1000, 2000, 3000, or 10,000, or, even, like here about 40,000 square meters you can plant every inch of it. Every inch of it is cultivated! Anthony, let me introduce you to our great team that is making everything happen! Bye! After touring the first farm, we've reached the second one.
This is bigger. It looks like it's double the size. There are warehouses being built as we speak. The trees are huge. The area looks old.
There are things that are planted outside and not under greenhouses. For our first stop, we're going to a treehouse, up high, to see the sunset behind me. From there, we start our tour. After showing you our first farm, I'm going to introduce you to our team for the second farm.
We have around 35 staff members here. They are working on the farm and making everything happen. Thank you! This is an open field.
This is completely organic. The entire farm is getting an organic certification from the princes and ministry of economic affairs and agriculture cabinet of UAE. What we do here is...
During this season, we grow all the coal crops meaning the crops for the winter season. We've got jalapeños. We've got chilis.
We've got eggplants, various types of eggplants. We do it outdoors. Once the season finishes, maybe in the month of March or April, we shift to okra, which is a summer crop. During okra, it goes up to July or August. Then again, we take one month for the preparation of soil.
In September, we start replanting. These are jalapeños, jalapeño chilis. They are very young plants, just transplanted around 45 days ago. They will be growing up to around 2 feet in height.
We'll be producing jalapeños here. During the winter months, we start open field cultivation from October onwards. It goes until March or April depending upon the light intensity and when the Sun comes in, when summer sets in. During this winter crop, we could grow any crop in the open field except for trellising crops which need full support Except for that, we use all the crops broccolis, eggplants, cauliflower,cabbage... We could do anything outside even strawberries. After March-April, we shift to the rest of the crops.
There, we've seen the jalapeños. Now, these are the hot chilis. This will start to produce in another 45 days. They are really hot, hot Indian chilis This is the eggplant. This is the Egyptian big eggplant, which is purple in color.
This will be in production from the first week of January onwards. We have different growing structures. One is the open field. Another is the greenhouses which you saw in the other field with the fan and pad type of cooling system. This is a net house here.
This net house is used to protect the crop from extreme weather conditions of sun and sandstorms. The crops which can be grown here are any type of crop during this season. During the summers, again, we have a particular type of crop to grow. Here, we could grow okra. We could grow all sorts of melons here:
watermelons, musk melon, yellow melon, and stone melon. (Anthony) What are we planting here? This is a beef tomato crop. This is organic. This is growing in the soil under the net house.
These are 14,000 plants of beef tomato. Each beef tomato plant will produce at least 15 kgs of beef tomato for us. 15 kgs into 14,000 plants I need a calculator now That goes into tons. 14,000 plants. 15 kilos each.
That's a load of tomatoes. In the desert. In the desert. From the date of sowing to the date of transplanting is one month. After one month, the plant grows to around 2 months in the net house.
During these 2 months, it's in the vegetative phase. After the second month, it will start flowering and fruiting. Now, it is still just only flowering. Fruit set has not happened. What we do here is... This is called trellising.
We have to keep the plant upright. This is called trellising. Nylon rope is tied up. After the plant grows up, up, and up... This is a hook. What we do is we just remove the hook, loosen the plant so that the plant goes down like this, which is called lowering, because it grows to at least 15 to 20 feet long.
This is called lowering. The plant starts there and ends in that place. So, it goes like this. It keeps on moving. This is how trellising is done in tomatoes. We will go to the greenhouses where you will find cherry tomatoes and beef tomatoes on the plant ready to eat.
Did he say ready to eat? Food! Let's eat! (Anthony) That's a complete jungle you have here. Yes. It's a jungle of cherry tomatoes. Welcome to the greenhouse of cherry tomatoes.
They've been trellised and trained. The plant is here. The starting is here but the ending is there. This is called trellising and lowering which is a type of agronomic activity that is done for all vine crops, The distinctive character of what is grown in VeggiTech is that they are ripening on the vine. They don't ripen after harvesting in your cold storages or logistics. They ripen on the vine so you have particular Brix.
The Brix is the sweetness of the cherry tomato. It is around 9 to 10. Sweet. Watery.
Very watery. Enjoyably sweet! There's a very light, subtle acidity that tickles the tongue. This is something! What happens is... When you're doing it using technology inside climate-controlled greenhouses, the productivity is high cause the plant population per squaremeter is high. It is being supplied with the proper recipe of nutrients. It is given exactly the feed that it requires not any extra feed.
There are no heavy metal and pesticide residues. There are no heavy metal residues in the crop. In the open field, what happens is it is inside nature.
You have a lot of pests and diseases which are there in the form of spores in the atmosphere. You also do have less plant population. So, the productivity goes down. One beef tomato plant will have to produce 15 kgs under normal conditions. All the vine crops like tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers are labor intensive because you need to keep trellising the plant and training the plant to get productivity. At the end, you get huge production which nullifies those labor costs.
At VeggiTech, what we do is we build, operate, and manage farms. We could also build a farm for our clients, operate, and manage it or build and hand over. If you're doing the three, there is something called hand-holding.
We hold hand for at least a year depending upon our understanding. Then, what we do is we give them consultancy. We give them consultancy for all agricultural activities including post-harvest and sales.