Panasonic are venturing into the world of horticulture by
commercially growing vegetables in indoor facilities in Singapore
Local Governments are encouraging indoor farming methods to
overcome land shortage which makes both countries reliant on
importing fresh produce from overseas.
In Singapore, Panasonic has converted an old automation factory
into an indoor farm. The 248 sq. metre factory in Tuas, Western
Singapore, is the first facility of its kind to be licensed by the
It uses an innovative soil-based system and Panasonic artificial
lighting to cultivate vegetables without pesticides in half the
time a traditional farm requires. The factory can maintain optimum
growing conditions, where temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide
levels are closely monitored and controlled.
According to Agri-Food of Singapore, only 8% of vegetables
consumed are grown locally. The Tuas factory can produce 3.6 tonnes
of produce per year; however Panasonic aims to increase the output
to 1,000 tonnes by March 2017.
Hideki Baba, Managing Director of Panasonic Factory Solutions Asia
Pacific says: "Given the global shortage of arable land, climate
change and increasing demand for quality food as well as a stable
food supply, Panasonic hopes our indoor vegetable farm can
contribute effectively to the nation's food self-sufficiency
At present, Panasonic is cultivating 10 varieties of vegetables in
Singapore including lettuce, radishes, baby spinach, cherry
tomatoes, and basil. It is also producing Japanese varieties such
as ooba (mint), mizuna (mustard) and mitsuba (parsley) which are
normally unable to be grown locally.
Prior to the 2011 earthquake in Japan, the vegetable farming
industry was controlled by an ageing population of family farmers
who owned small plots of land. These factors drove up the cost of
fresh produce and raised questions over sustainability for the
When reconstructing the Fukushima region, the Ministry of
Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) offered support to businesses
that used the latest technologies to grow produce indoors. Before
the earthquake, the Fukushima precinct thrived on local produce,
however many locals fled the area after the earthquake. Government
initiatives' supporting growing produce has helped attract
residents back into the area.
In May 2015, Panasonic's Fukushima factory will take on a new
lease of life as a vegetable factory. Previously used to
manufacture digital cameras, the Fukushima Factory suffered huge
damages during the earthquake.
The factory will utilise a wide range of Panasonic products and
technologies including lighting, air conditioning and energy
conservation technologies to help cultivation. As plants grow,
sensors measure temperature and moisture levels and Panasonic's
system automatically opens and closes curtains and windows to
control sunlight and airflow.
The fear of contamination following the nuclear crisis at the
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has tainted perception of
locally grown produce. Local officials have however confirmed that
produce from the Fukushima precinct is safe to consume. The
atmospheric radiation level in the Fukushima district is now
similar to that of New York and London and rigorous testing has
been carried out on locally grown produce.
There are plans to construct a second factory in Japan which
will produce highly specialised plants such as a low potassium
lettuce which is used to aid kidney disease.
Panasonic is also working on a system for people to grow
vegetables at their homes, and there are plans to develop indoor
farming facilities in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.