A new vision to increase high tech food production in Wales which also has a positive impact on climate change has been launched by the Welsh government.
The new Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) prospectus highlights the use of sustainable systems for growing food, particularly where parameters and conditions such as water and light are tightly controlled.
Food businesses in Wales are now being encouraged to adopt this technology-based approach, with systems such as hydroponics, aeroponics and vertical farming particularly highlighted.
CEA aims to provide protection and maintain optimal growing conditions throughout the development of the crop, with production taking place within an enclosed growing structure.
Such systems are developed on a circular economy model including recycled heat, nutrients and renewable energy. CEA also helps to ensure minimal food waste.
Advocates of this approach say it compliments traditional agriculture methods by producing the crops which cannot be easily grown in Wales and supplying produce all year round.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths visited CEA established firm S&A Produce in the Vale of Glamorgan to launch the prospectus and see the work they do to produce soft fruit all year around.
She also launched the company’s new Aeron Cymreig strawberry brand following significant investment by S&A which has doubled the size of its farm in Cowbridge.
Ms Griffiths said CEA had the potential to 'transform' the food supply chain while lowering the carbon footprint and the environmental impact of food production.
“Creating a stronger, greener and fairer Wales is at the heart of what we want to achieve," the Minister added.
“We all have concerns about climate change, declining natural resources and population growth - and the impact it has on the food on our plates.
“Together we have a real opportunity to deliver a greener Wales now and for our future generations."
S&A Group Managing Director, Peter Judge said there was 'significant opportunities' for the efficient development of high value crops with the support of the Welsh government.
"The investment S&A Produce has made supports this, combined with the launch of our Welsh Brand which will be made available in Co-op stores in the coming weeks."