Dan Xu CEO Hortipolaris
Beijing has 22 million inhabitants, but only ten percent of the agricultural products it needs to feed the people of Beijing is supplied locally. Dan Xu started Hortipolaris when he realized how dangerous it is for a city not to be self-sustainable when it comes to food. Using facilities like a glass greenhouse in the outskirts of Beijing, Hortipolaris is dedicated to providing the citizens of Beijing with quality, healthy and safe vegetables
In their high-tech greenhouse in the outskirts of Beijing, Hortipolaris also aims to educate children who live in the city and have never seen a farmer; they have no idea where the vegetables they eat come from. Every year, up to 50,000 school kids come to see how vegetables are grown. “They have never seen it.”
Dan Xu: “The current long supply chain in our traditional food chain generates high loss in transit. I now know that the loss of the entire fruit and vegetable transport in China can reach 40 to 50 percent. So farmers who have worked very hard to grow enough food have to see how nearly half of it is wasted. This is a very scary fact.”
“By producing food close to the city, I hope to create a mind shift for consumers: it is not logical to for an ordinary tomato or apple to travel thousands of kilometers. I want to show consumers we can create good and healthy food nearby.”
“Having farms close to cities would greatly shorten the delivery and transport time. Because we can guarantee the quality of the fruits and vegetables we pick, waste can be minimized, and we can avoid excessive use of chemical preservatives. We need to minimize waste—just like in the old days.”
Hortipolaris set up a special area in their greenhouse to educate children and show them how food is grown. They found that young people who live in a big city like Beijing have never seen a farmer. They have no idea how a tomato is grown or whether a pineapple grows from a tree or in the ground. In their high-tech facilities, Hortipolaris shows how farming is now using less land and less water to grow healthy food.
Beijing, Shanghai, New York and other megacities all struggle with food issues, explains Dan Xu. “The supermarkets in these cities sell vegetables that are shipped from thousands of kilometers away.” Dan Xu hopes these cities will become more self-sustainable with fresh produce.