A startup from the Middle East grows food in the desert
A startup from the Middle East grows food in the desert

Pure Harvest Smart Farms, an agricultural technology startup, announced that it received $ 60 million to expand its business in the Middle East, but said fundraising was a difficult task.

Pure Harvest Smart Farms, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, grows fruits and vegetables in greenhouses in the desert of the United Arab Emirates and has partnerships with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The harsh climate in the Middle East makes the countries of the region highly dependent on food imports. The coronavirus pandemic last year highlighted the risks to food security.

“Our experience in the desert has yielded very rewarding results: it is possible to obtain high-quality, very cost-effective local production throughout the year,” said Sky's CEO and co-founder.

He added that the startup is using the funds to build a bridgehead in Saudi Arabia and is also planning to expand its product portfolio.

The company raised $ 50 million through the sukuk (also known as the sukuk), which is a debt instrument in line with Islamic teachings.

“Islamic bonds are issued by the wealth management and investment banking platform Shuaa Capital, which meets Pure Harvest Smart Farms' long-term demand for a bold capital plan,” said Kurtz.

Despite the success of the fundraising campaign, Kurtz noted that Pure Harvest Smart Farms has received less funding from agricultural technology companies in the US and Asia.

This is because the market for investment projects in the Middle East is underdeveloped but is growing rapidly and remains a relatively emerging market, he said.

Kurtz acknowledged that the $ 200 million raised in the first phase is huge regionally and globally.

However, he said that in an industry like ours - which is a capital intensive industry - we are still relatively underfunded.

He cited a handful of companies, such as Plenty, an American vertical farm that has raised more than $ 500 million in financing.

“Many of these companies have received a lot more financing than we did, but we understand that the demand on our market is high and that we mainly import 80% to 90% of the fresh fruits and vegetables in the region,” said Kurtz.

He added: The capital of Pure Harvest Smart Farms comes from all over the world and we have to fight for it because it is much more difficult to attract investment capital in the Middle East, but I think this is changing rapidly and it is clear that we are very grateful for what we have partners.

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