An Efficient and Cost-Effective Alternative to Traditional Farming
By David Kuack
With the increasing impact that climate change is having on traditional farming, David Proenza and his company Global Foods determined vertical farming could be an efficient and economical alternative to traditional food production methods.
Like other farmers, David Proenza, president of Global Foods in Panama City, Panama, is an optimist, but he’s also a realist. His company has over 300 hectares (741.3 acres) of field production in Panama and it also buys from producers who farm about 150 hectares (370.7 acres) in Panama. His company also purchases and distributes produce grown in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. In addition to Global Foods’ field production, it operates about 2 hectares (215,278 square feet) of greenhouses for growing field transplants along with growing tomatoes, cucumbers, bell and chili peppers and eggplants for the local market.
“In 2008 we experienced the first weather problems in our production fields due to climate change,” Proenza said. “That year we lost several million dollars because of weather-related problems. It was the first time that had ever happened in 25 years. That kind of opened our eyes.” In 2009, Global Foods experienced considerable crop losses again due to weather-related issues. “That started to set off a lot of alarms,” Proenza said. “The fact that we were having a lot of problems in the field due to climate change caused us to start looking at what was happening to food production on a global basis. You hear about these different weather-related problems like floods, droughts, etc. It didn’t really hit home until it started to affect us.”
Proenza said when his company started researching what was happening worldwide related to climate change, global warming and other weather-related issues, he learned other organizationshad the same concerns.