Photo: G. Schieber

24.08.2012

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Megacities in Asia require millions of tonnes of rice every year to feed their growing population. Producing staple food, such as rice, directly within the city, would reduce transport requirements, would liberate large surfaces and make them available for other new ecosystem services. Skyfarming is a novel vertical farming approach to produce staple food in a multi-storey building that is largely independent of the environment and climate.

The United Nations predict for 2050 a global population growth up from today’s seven billion to reach approximately 9.3 billion people (United Nations 2011). Within the same period, the urban population will increase by 2.6 billion, from 3.6 (2011) up to 6.3 billion people in 2050. Thus, the urban areas of the earth will absorb all of the expected population growth for the next four decades. The rural population will decrease by 300 million people within the same period. The relation between urban and rural population on a global scale is expected to change from 30:70 in 1950 to 70:30 in 2050 (United Nations 2011).

People prefer to settle at locations that have fertile soils available, leading to a competition for land between expanding urban and rural agricultural areas. Between 1.6-3.3 million hectares of land best suited for agriculture are estimated to be lost to urbanisation every year (Lambin & Meyfroidt, 2011) and, thus, the area available to food production decreases from 0.5 hectare per person in 1950 to 0.2 hectare per person in 2050 (Moore et al., 2012).

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