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Maha Al Muhairi is the founder of Fresh Fridge, a farm within a fridge that can grow different varieties of vegetables in a controlled environment within 10-15 days


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Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Published: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 1:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 10:53 PM

She’s not an agricultural engineer, nor did she have any agricultural background, but UAE national Maha Al Muhairi has ingeniously converted her rooftop into a smart farm that yields fresh vegetables and leafy greens throughout the year.

Ahead of the celebration of Emirati Women’s Day on August 28, it is good to look into Al Muhairi’s journey into the field of smart agriculture that has not only changed her perspective but also propelled her to explore a vast realm where she strives to fulfill her grand aspiration for greener, more sustainable communities.

With no agriculture background, Al Muhairi’s green discovery began with her participation in a science competition during her computer engineering studies in Dubai. Her journey started with a smart refrigerator — she’s the founder of Fresh Fridge, a farm within a fridge that can grow different varieties of vegetables in a controlled environment within 10-15 days.

From smart fridge to smart farm

Her invention of a smart fridge advanced to a smart farm, and the creation of smart planter. Today, she owns her own agricultural project and cultivates an array of agricultural produce.

She said in an interview: “After the success of the smart fridge, I envisioned utilising my rooftop space. Then, I collaborated with a company to construct a plastic house, employing a hybrid system of hydroponics and traditional farming.”

“I cultivated lettuce, arugula, basil, parsley, mint, tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers. The experiment was remarkably successful, teaching me valuable lessons and deepening my agricultural knowledge.”

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic granted Al Muhairi more time to focus on her farm, driving her to contemplate additional solutions for food sustainability.

‘Mahayasfarm’

Aside from achieving vegetable self-sufficiency for her 10-member family, Al Muhairi also now owns a private farm called ‘Mahayasfarm’, where she grows and sells a variety of plants and vegetables.

In a video, Al Muhairi explains her invention, the Smart Planter. She has spent four years developing it and secured a two-year patent. Crafted from 1,045 yogurt containers, the Smart Planter repurposes plastic material into a sophisticated farming tool.

The smart planter features two tiers: the planter itself and its base, a water-filled box available in different sizes to accommodate spaces like houses and balconies. Capable of holding water for over two weeks, it can support growth for one to four weeks without the need for fertilisers. Its portability allows for relocation, and it can host up to three plantings, depending on the vegetable type.

By sharing her own experiences, Al Muhairi is hoping that her smart farms will be replicated in other houses.

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