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High-tech urban farming in Paris

Paris is opening the largest cultivation company in the world. With its Parisculteurs project, France, along with other cities, is strongly committed to urban agriculture. This creates an opportunity for Dutch businesses.

The Parisculteurs project aims to green another 100 hectares in Paris this year. A third of this is earmarked for urban farming. There is much interest among Parisians for locally-grown products. There is also a need for green areas in this large French city.

There is, therefore, great enthusiasm for a project such as this. However, in many cases, it is a challenge to realize such a project. Space in the city is limited and expensive. The use of pesticides will be met with great resistance too.

Innovative techniques are, therefore, often used for urban agriculture. These include vertical farming and mixed cultivation. But digital aids also play a significant role in urban agriculture. For example, water-monitoring sensors are used in hydroponic systems.

No fossil fuels
The French startup, Neofarm, has taken its first high-tech greenhouse into use. It is located just west of Paris. Just a few kilometers from Paris lies the small town of Saint-Nom-la-Breteche. There, on a 1,000m2 plot, Neofarm is growing carrots, lettuce, and beans.

By planting different kinds of vegetables together, pesticide use is kept to a minimum. The startup is also busy developing a weeding robot. It uses online decision-making tools to optimize the process. In this way, Neofarm wants to develop a model for micro-farms.

They want to make it possible to cultivate high-quality organic products. That on little land, close to the city. With this model, the startup also wants to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, their farm uses no fossil fuels. The healthy soil can store CO2 too.

Another French startup, Agricool, grows strawberries in containers. And since recently, herbs too. For this, this company uses an entirely closed system. Various sensors monitor it. According to Agricool, this closed system uses 90% less water than conventional farming.

The importance Parisians attach to locally-produced products, therefore, ensures innovation in the chain. In France, there is a trend toward more organic, locally produced goods. Taking this into account, these developments will, more than likely, continue in the next few years.

This trend is also the case in other European countries. That offers opportunities for Dutch businesses. They can respond to these developments. They can, for example, supply materials that can be used at these types of urban farms.

Source: Agroberichten Buitenland / Renske Buisman

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