FARMING indoors is on the rise in local agriculture with private companies like Sananbio supporting the government’s bid to raise the self-sufficiency level on vegetables to 70% in 2025.
“Relying on Sananbio’s strong technical background, I hope Sananbio will be able to support the Malaysian government in achieving its National Agrofood Policy 2.0 (DAN 2.0) modern agriculture objective for self-sufficiency level on vegetables from 44.6% in 2019 to 70% by 2025,” said Sananbio global sales director Galen Zhou.
The brand shared that alongside DAN 2.0 and the push for smart agriculture with government funding for the adoption of fourth industrial revolution technologies, many investors are aggressively studying indoor farming investment plans for the next three to five years, mainly for the huge local vegetable market and export to Singapore.
“We are convinced that using Malaysia as an indoor farming and development base to promote indoor farming has great potential to spread to other South-East Asian countries,” said Square Roots general manager Jennifer Sow In Heng, the partner of Sananbio Malaysia indoor agricultural system.
Towards vertical farming
Indoor farming does not use natural sunlight and soil in its process, it is replaced with LED lights and nutrient solutions instead.
Rows of LED lights illuminate some 400 sq m of layered hydroponic green leafy vegetables on a plant growth frame, which produces up to 200kg of vegetables a day.
These vegetables are grown in what is known as vertical farms; it is also considered green and pollution-free, as no pesticides are used throughout the cultivation process.Therefore, the vegetables produced are juicy, crisp and sweet and can be consumed without much washing and as such, is popular in the local markets.
With automatic control of temperature and humidity in a clean environment, other than nutrient and LED lights, vertical farming will avoid those normal challenges faced by traditional agriculture like insects and diseases.
Besides that, these vegetables are able to grow uninterrupted for a year.
The hydroponic growth system used by Square Roots comes from China-based company Sananbio.
A joint venture established by the optoelectronic giant San’an Group and the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sananbio has been in use in dozens of counties and regions around the world, since its establishment.
Its flagship product-Radix modular multi-layer hydroponic growth system integrates the plant light source system, cultivation board and nutrient solution supply system to provide the “sunlight” and “land” needed for plant growth.
It also provides multiple size layers high modules, which can be freely combined and flexibly assembled to build multi-layer crop planting racks like building blocks to meet the indoor growth needs of different crops.
With the spectrum developed by the researchers of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, there are currently hundreds of crops that can be grown, such as leafy vegetables, tender sprouts, eggplant fruits, spices, edible flowers, medicinal plants and pastures, among others. The brand shares that the trend of automation is unstoppable.
A self-developed unmanned vertical indoor agricultural production system called Uplift is installed through unmanned planting production lines, with digital production systems and ultra-high space expansion, in order to open up an intelligent vertical farm era.
Uplift enables easy monitoring of “seeds in and vegetables out” by finely regulating important processes such as crop sowing, seedling raising, split planting and harvesting.
After development and verification, a standard system covering an area of 5,000 sq m can plan up to 20 floors of plant growth rooms – able to produce six to eight tonnes of vegetables per day, which is nearly 100 times higher than that of traditional cultivation techniques.
The Uplift research and development team has also independently developed a digital plant cultivation management system aptly dubbed PlantKeeper.
This system has independent data storage, analysis and computing capabilities to help growers achieve environmental control and adjustment, photoperiod control and adjustment, as well as growth data collection and analysis.
Relying on the imported expert database, it can provide growers with the task time of the whole planting cycle from sowing to harvesting and carry out the whole cultivation management. While eliminating the need for manual management, manual recording and manual calculation, not only is the accuracy of plant cultivation improved, but also the scientific management of the cultivation workshop and the unmanned management of ‘seeds in and vegetables out’ is realised.