Suspicion cast on sustainability claims in controlled-environment agriculture

Tue 14/12/2021 by Richard Wilkinson

The controlled-environment agriculture sector, which includes vertical farming, has expressed concern about misleading claims regarding sustainability. This is the message outlined in a new report published by agriculture technology specialist WayBeyond and CEA consultant Agritecture, whose third annual Global CEA Census suggests the industry’s remarkable growth and an anticipated increase in profitability are accompanied by some apprehension.

Asked whether they believed the CEA industry was susceptible to excessive greenwashing, 70% of respondents said yes.

Darryn Keiller, CEO and founder of WayBeyond, said: “The fact that most growers believe misleading sustainability information is being shared is of concern and I’d say not entirely without merit although this is not just a CEA issue but agriculture as a whole. Further research would be required to confirm the accuracy of their beliefs.”

The viability of future production and how to measure sustainability efforts were also prominent features of this year’s survey report, according to its authors.

According to S2G Ventures, global investment in CEA was USD$2bn in 2020. That support has reportedly led to major technological advances for new and existing farm operations.

“From the Census 72% of respondents expect an improvement in net margin in the next year and 81% plan to increase their production area in the next year. This is a positive for everyone involved in the sector,” said Keiller.


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