Sharp Corporation announces that in September 2013 comprehensive laboratory tests were begun in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to assess the operability of a new strawberry-growing facility there. Sharp aims to commercialize the facility following repeated tests conducted in a laboratory built in July this year on the premises of Sharp's local sales subsidiary, Sharp Middle East Free Zone Establishment (SMEF).
Favored for their high quality, Japanese strawberries are sold for high prices in overseas markets, such as in the Middle East. But because strawberries are perishable and quick to spoil, distributing them overseas has always been difficult. Cultivating fresh strawberries in a locally situated plant-growing facility should therefore enable local production and consumption without problems caused by location, weather, and temperature.
In the SMEF laboratory building, strawberries are cultivated in a sealed environment under artificial light. The growth environment is precisely controlled using Sharp electronic technologies: LEDs that enable controlled lighting; Plasmacluster technology* for managing air quality; and other Sharp equipment for monitoring room temperature and humidity. This enables Sharp to collect data on strawberry cultivation techniques and use that data to achieve stable production of high-quality strawberries.
Using technology and know-how developed in the laboratory tests, Sharp aims to launch a plant factory engineering business in cooperation with local partners. The business will encompass a range of aspects, from factory design to the provision of monitoring and maintenance services.
Laboratory Test Overview
Purpose: Commercialization of plant-growing facility in the Middle East
Duration: July 2013 to March 2015 (scheduled)
Plant under cultivation: Strawberries (Japanese strawberries with high sugar content)
Location: Laboratory building on premises of SMEF
Technologies used: LED, Plasmacluster*, and others.
• The laboratory tests are based on research into strawberry cultivation conducted jointly with Osaka Prefecture University.
• The laboratory tests have been selected by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) as an agriculture industrialization project eligible for government subsidy in 2013.