At nearly four years since the initial onset of the Covid-19, pandemic, food security in Malaysia remains a concern, with the country ranking 56th on the Global Hunger Index, at an increase of 4.2 per cent. This, coupled with concerns about the ageing of Malaysia’s agricultural sector only re-emphasises the urgent need for solutions that address these issues. In line with this, experts have recommended the incorporation of smart farming — utilising technologies such as precision agriculture, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and automation to improve efficiency and get to the root of the issue, which is where VF@RM steps in.
While urban farms in Malaysia gained popularity in recent years, hydroponic systems proved to be popular, mainly due to their ability to account for existing space constraints, with the creation of organic vertical farming systems adding to the convenience factor. VF@RM, a made in Malaysia, sustainable agriculture innovator has further improved on this design with the development of the VGROW INDOOR HEXA. A compact vertical smart automation farming system, the VGROW INDOOR HEXA utilises bio-vertiponics, creating a built-in vertigation system — a vertical fertilising irrigation system — that mimics nature as closely as possible.
In line with their goal of making fresh, organic, pesticide-free produce available to everyone, VF@RM dedicated themselves to seeking out suitable sustainable solutions to ensure easy access to fresh, organic produce to the public. With the support of local entities such as the MRANTI, via the MRANTI Impact Challenge Accelerator (MICA) programme, VF@RM turned its vision into a thriving reality, rooted in innovation and a shared belief in making quality, pesticide-free produce available to everyone. Receiving more than just advice, VF@RM’s participation in the MICA programme proved fruitful as they received detailed advice and guidance on more delicate topics such as their business model, and curating community connections.
“For us, it’s about more than just growing vegetables — with urban agriculture on the rise, we wanted to make it a process that was both accessible and sustainable,” shared VF@RM’s Founder and CEO, Gary Law. “Agriculture is a staple economic sector, regardless of what era we live in — it’s only a matter of bringing it up to speed with the times. By automating the process, we also make it more convenient, something that can be done at home, in school, or even in the office.”
Crafted specifically for indoor cultivation, bio-vertiponics offer a controlled environment where plants can thrive through meticulous attention to detail. The setup incorporates specialised growing lighting, and precise temperature controls, a combination that empowers individuals to cultivate plants year-round, unaffected by external factors such as unpredictable weather conditions. Inspired by controlled environment agriculture CEA, the indoor organic vertical farming systems designed by VF@RM's emphasise spatial efficiency, providing high yields with minimal sacrificing of space.
At the heart of this cultivation technique is the practice of bioponics, which distinguishes itself by utilising entirely organic nutrients. Unlike traditional hydroponic systems that often rely on synthetic fertilisers, bio-vertiponics provides a sustainable alternative, allowing for the growth of organic produce within organic vertical farming frameworks. This approach capitalises on the strengths of both hydroponics and aeroponics, offering a harmonious blend of efficiency from hydroponics and optimal oxygenation from aeroponics.
The end result is a growing environment where plants can flourish at an accelerated pace, gaining strength and producing higher yields. With bio-vertiponics, VF@RM has successfully harnessed the best of both worlds to provide a streamlined, organic, and high-yielding solution for indoor urban cultivation. However, beyond providing improved access to urban agricultural practices, VF@RM also seeks to provide a positive impact on local communities, and the environment at large.
To achieve this, they adopt a three-pronged approach, catering to diverse needs. Firstly, it empowers individuals to cultivate fresh and highly nutritious Baby Greens at home, fostering a direct connection between consumers and their food. Secondly, VF@RM focuses on education, providing hands-on learning experiences to promote sustainable practices and healthy eating habits through indoor farming environments.
Recognising the critical importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors in the corporate landscape, VF@RM also extends its impact through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. In doing so, they offer companies opportunities to embrace and promote sustainable practices, contributing significantly to corporates' ESG goals that eventually create an impact socially. Aligned with key UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as health, education, sustainable cities, responsible consumption, climate action, and partnerships, VF@RM's CSR efforts contribute to broader societal goals, making it a pivotal player in advancing holistic well-being and responsible business practices.
In the vibrant tapestry of Malaysia, VF@RM emerges as a trailblazer, revolutionising sustainable modern cutting-edge agrotech while working towards improved community empowerment.