Whether it is vertical farming, plant factories, city farming, urban agriculture, greenhouse growing or rooftop farming it appears that people around the world are interested in the opportunities in controlled environment agriculture. From inspirational drawings to increased news articles and from blogs to social media the amount of “chatter” has increased drastically over the past 5 years. People in developed countries are paying more attention to what they eat, how their food is grown and where it comes from which means big agribusiness and small family farms are trying to quickly adapt to the consumer demand and consumer created opportunity.
Outside investors, industry leaders, non-profits, NGO’s and governments are not blind to the situation and are just as interested in the community or economic opportunities created by innovations in horticulture and agriculture technology. Ag-tech investments by venture capitalist are up, see this article from Food Tech Connect. With this increased interest from the non-farming community, there is a need to learn about the basics and how to be successful in niche-sectors like controlled environment agriculture. In the United States we have seen events like TEDx Manhattan, Indoor Ag Con, and Seedstock continue to grow with similar shows and events occurring in Abu Dhabi, Japan, England and the Netherlands.
While better known globally for traditional agriculture, logistics, the Panama Canal, banking and tourism, this year Panama will get into the game with its first conference (The International Congress on Controlled Environment Agriculture 2015) and it’s only the beginning. Panama’s new government (led by President Varela) and its Minister of Agriculture (led by Mr Jorge Arango) recently announced that they will provide financial support for farmers/growers interested in producing crops grown in high tech protected agriculture (or controlled environment agriculture) facilities. Here are some of the basic details (please email me for all the details and qualifications):
- Long term agricultural loans at 2% interest.
- An investment of 40 million for a R&D Center to develop innovations in Ag Tech, Vertical Farms, Greenhouses and Controlled Environment Agriculture, as well as other agriculture technologies
- Up to 480,000 dollars in grant money for people to develop up to one hectare of high tech greenhouses or equivalent in Vertical Farms, divided as follows:
- Panama will provide up to 50% of the investment made in acquiring and installing a high tech controlled environment agriculture facility and system. This is based on 45USD/square meter up to a maximum of 1 hectare per beneficiary.
- Panama will provide up to 50% of the investment needed to purchase equipment and consumables needed to start a protected ag operation. This is up to a maximum of 30,000USD.
- Panama will provide up to 50% of the investment needed to purchase irrigation equipment. This is up to a maximum of 30,000USD.
- Panama will provide up to 50% investments made for the sourcing of water. This is up to a maximum of 5,000USD
- Panama has additional financial incentives based on meeting other requirements and in other ag based industries.
Based on this announcement and their obvious support it is no surprised that Panama will host the first ICCEA 2015.
Chris Higgins – Founder of UrbanAgNews.com (Follow on Twitter #ICCEA2015.)