SME Story: Interview with Dr Walid Saad, CEO, World of Farming SME Story: Interview with Dr Walid Saad, CEO, World of Farming
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SME Story: Interview with Dr Walid Saad, CEO, World of Farming

SME Story: Interview with Dr Walid Saad, CEO, World of Farming

Since launching earlier this year, we successfully completed the first prototype of our patent-pending circular farming methodology, that uses our artificially intelligent tracking software technology

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SME Story: Interview with Dr Walid Saad, CEO, World of Farming

What inspired you to start this business?

In the next 10 to 20 years, the world will be faced with two major challenges that will threaten food security. With the world population set to reach 9.9 billion in 2050, according to global projections, the global consumption of meat and dairy will increase by up to 70 per cent. This will result in an unprecedentedly high demand in feeding people, as well as livestock. At the same time, the amount of arable land available to keep up with food production demand is decreasing significantly. 

This problem inspired us to think about vertical farming innovatively, as it is key to solving these challenges globally. When looking at the entire supply chain of the industry, the production of animal fodder is one of the most important components to food security. If done sustainably, it can have a positive impact on the entire supply chain, while also making the food we consume more nutritious. 

At World of Farming (WoF), we set out to tackle this in the most sustainable and innovative way – through a first-of-its-kind circular farming methodology that will supply the local dairy and meat industry with highly nutritious, herbicides and pesticides free animal feed at a reduced cost, using up to 90 per cent less water and up to 90 per cent less land than traditional farming.

What are some of the challenges you faced when starting off?

Similar to any other agritech startup across the region, we are seeing growing investor appetite for climate change, and driving more engagement on green investment opportunities, but there are still several challenges to overcome along the way. This includes creating greater awareness and mass market acceptance about adopting new and non-conventional grades of animal feed. 

In order to continue ensuring opportunities for agritech take centrestage in the UAE and the wider region, governments, institutions, investors, and entrepreneurs all need to work together to generate a higher level of awareness and buy-in among farmers themselves, so that the fruits of Agritech can be at their fingertips. 

What are some of the key milestones of your business?

Since launching earlier this year, we successfully completed the first prototype of our patent-pending circular farming methodology, that uses our artificially intelligent tracking software technology, currently private BETA. 

We were recently awarded our first customer contract to build, operate and manage a fully integrated circular farm in the UAE with a total output of 3,000 metric tonnes of fresh animal feed all year round. 

What are some of the expansion plans you have in your pipeline?

WoF aims to build, operate, and manage farms across the region. Later this year we plan to secure more funding to further grow and scale our operations in the UAE and the wider MENA region, including Saudi Arabia.

We are simultaneously working with a number of local universities to empower youth and engage them in research and development programmes. We want to engage with these young innovators and give them the opportunity to develop local solutions that support the UAE’s national food security strategy. 

How does WoF aim to improve food security?

The world is currently facing unprecedented food security challenges, inefficient supply chains, as well as geopolitical tensions. This does not help regions like the GCC, which are known to have a harsh environment for farming due to high temperatures, scarcity of arable land, and limited freshwater resources. As a result, the UAE, for example, imports 80-90 per cent of the food it consumes, including livestock feed. 

Instead of producing an output directly for human consumption, our approach serves to tackle a major problem which begins at the very top: to sustainably feed livestock with on-site production of fresh fodder. In line with the UAE’s National Food Strategy 2051, WoF’s vertical farming model will enable local farmers to produce fresh, and cost-effective, local alternatives to international imports of animal fodder independently, efficiently, and more sustainably. When done at scale, it will have an immense impact on regional food security, as well as in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from conventional animal feed production and transportation globally.

Our process involves a full circular farming methodology which we named ‘The Cattleyst’, to sustainably produce our livestock fodder.  The patent-pending methodology is a closed loop system that reduces methane emissions to the atmosphere by recycling cattle manure, while ensuring farm output is being used as input in the farming operation. This approach will supply the local dairy and meat industry with highly nutritious, herbicides and pesticides free animal feed at reduced cost, using up to 90 per cent less water and up to 90 per cent less land than traditional farming. 

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