“Large-scale vertical farming will not revitalize growth, the economy or labour on the island because the set-up and operating costs of vertical farms for leafy greens are prohibitive in Bermuda,” the Bermuda Farmer’s Association [BFA] said.
The BFA asserted that they were not fully consulted before the Government announced that funds have been earmarked “to support the development of a vertical farm project,” and said they are “dismayed to see Government’s insistence on moving forward.”
“As stated in the articles, Minister Hayward laid out a recovery plan as part of Government’s four lead initiatives to ‘kick start growth, the economy and labour,” a statement from the organisation said.
“One of those plans Minister Hayward said, was ongoing work to make vertical farming a reality. He said, ‘The vertical farming facility is being acted upon, with a potential location for a large-scale vertical farming facility under review and financial details in development.’ He said the vertical farm project was to ‘facilitate food security, lower food costs, develop farm crops and create jobs in a new, evolved area of the agricultural industry.’
“The BFA has already engaged with the Government on the subject of vertical farming and specifically on solving the problem of the leafy greens shortfall in Bermuda in September 2021.
“This was in response to then Minister Wayne Furbert’s vertical farm business concept. At that time the BFA, of whom many members already grow crops in alternative, evolved agricultural methods, discussed with the Minister the specific reasons why large-scale vertical farming for leafy greens will not work in Bermuda.
“The Government’s purpose at that time was to reduce the imports of leafy greens by 35%. As no specific data could be provided to the BFA by Government at that time, the BFA undertook a detailed survey of all consumption, local production, and importation of leafy greens to identify the exact produce area shortfalls. With the new data, the BFA laid out a solution to the Minster of Home Affairs to address the problem.
“The BFA contends that the objective of the vertical farm concept is to reduce the cost of production including labour. Large-scale vertical farming will not revitalize growth, the economy or labour on the island because the set-up and operating costs of vertical farms for leafy greens are prohibitive in Bermuda.
“At 44 cents a kilowatt hour, 300% higher than average US energy costs, the energy required for 18 hours a day of lighting and 24 hours a day of HVAC, at 365 days a year, makes the costs of vertical farm production for leafy greens prohibitive.
“The BFA was of the understanding that they were engaged with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Estates to implement their solution and is dismayed to see Government’s insistence on moving forward on a failed initiative via the Ministry of Economy and Labour.”
Bernews asked the Government for a response yesterday and we will update as able.