FDCEA Advancing Research and Education for the CEA and Plant Factory industry – Part 3

By David Proenza

This is Post #3 out of three Posts on the Foundations trip to Europe and Asia. After our visit to Chiba University and other research centers in Japan, we traveled to China, Belgium and Geneva. For a complete report of the entire trip of the Foundation for Development of Controlled Environment Agriculture (FDCEA), read all three posts.

Our trip to China took us to Shenzhen to visit a few factories manufacturing Led lights and equipment for the Plant Factory. We witnessed some interesting developments and advancements in lighting still in the R&D phase, but soon will come to market, that will further the quality, intensity and efficiency of the Led lights for plant growth.

From Shenzhen we traveled to Belgium and visited Proefcentrum Hoogstraten, a world leader in research and development of several cultivars and in particular Strawberry. We were very interested in their advanced research into Strawberry using Led lights.

Research Centre Hoogstraten has specialized in the cultivation of strawberry, tomato, pepper, in glasshouses, as well as strawberry cultivation in open air (in soil and on tabletops) and recently under LED lights. Practical and demonstrative research in these cultures delivers information and answers to questions from professional horticultural companies and growers. In collaboration with other research institutions, different programs can be initiated to solve more fundamental problems in the above mentioned cultures.


The Research Center consults to roughly 220 strawberry growers and has a Consultancy Strawberry Team which delivers professional advice around the world to strawberry growers. One of the major strengths of the Consulting Team is its close interaction with the ongoing research at the Research Center, this way the advice given by the Consultancy Team can always be backed up with objectively obtained trial results.

After spending the entire morning at the Research Center, we flew to Geneva, Switzerland. The trip to Geneva was not to see any Plant Factories, because at the moment there are none, it was not to look at Led lights or other equipment, again, there are none. We went to Geneva for what it stands for and that is money people. We visited Investment Funds, Investors and Bankers. Whichever way you want to develop a Greenhouse or Plant Factory, whether small or large, manual or automated, with or without robotics, you will need one important ingredient, the greenback or euro depending where you are developing your Farm. We had great meetings with top Investment Firms and a lot of positive response to the Plant Factory concept. More to come!

Breaking News!
In Post#2, I wrote about the Foundation actively working to organize a technology and knowledge transfer between Chiba University and the Universities in Panama for the benefit of advancing CEA and Plant Factory in the Americas and raise up trained personnel that can work and manage the day-to-day operations of the Plant Factory.

Last week a collaboration agreement for technical and knowledge transfer between Chiba University, the University of Panama and the Technological University of Panama was signed at a ceremony held at Chiba University and attended by Ritter Diaz, Panama Ambassador to Japan, Dr. Tokuhisa, President of Chiba University, Dr. Rodrigo Cambra, University of Panama and Dr. Humberto Rodriquez, Technological University of Panama.

Ambassador Diaz has been indispensable helping the Foundation reach this milestone.



On 24th February, six graduate students and one professor with advanced knowledge in CEA and Plant Factory will visit Panama and intern at Urban Farms. The management of Urban Farms are honored for the privilege to have these graduate students and professors work side-by-side with their Ag Engineers and Growers.

On behalf of the Foundation, we hope these three posts were helpful to the reader to understand the work the Foundation is doing to advance knowledge of growing in Greenhouse and Plant Factory in Controlled Environment Agriculture around the world.

NOTE: The R&D Center in Panama is open to everyone that would like to participate at any level. It will be an open innovation research and training center for anyone interested in learning Controlled Environment Agriculture for Greenhouse and Plant Factory food production and operation. For more information on the Foundation and how to collaborate, visit the Foundation at: www.fdcea.com

Foundations schedule of events for 2016:

  • On 18-19 January, the Foundation organized the first day educational activities for Indoor Ag Con Asia. In attendance were prestigious Professors from Chiba University, National Taiwan University and Seoul National University. The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Kozai, President of Japan Plant Factory Association.
  • On 16th June, the Foundation will hold a one-day seminar on Protected Agriculture at the Crown Plaza in Panama.
  • In August, the Foundation is organizing to hold a one-day seminar at a Prestigious University in the USA. To be confirmed!
  • On 20th September, the Foundation will hold a one-day Seminar on CEA and Plant Factory in Santiago, Chile.
  • On 17th November, the Foundation will hold a one-day Seminar on CEA and Plant Factory at the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Convention Center in Panama, (possible location for the ICCEA Panama 2017).

ICCEA Panama 2017 is scheduled for May 2017 in Panama. If you missed the ICCEA 2015, you missed out on a lot. Save the date and plan on attending the ICCEA Panama 2017, it will be bigger, better with unforgettable events!

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