Abu Dhabi-based agri-tech company Pure Harvest Smart Farms will invest over €30 million (Dh130m) to build a hi-tech farm in Kuwait to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to The Sultan Centre, one of the country's biggest independent supermarket operators.
A climate-controlled facility will deliver year-round fresh fruit and vegetables to TSC's stores. A shared visitor's centre will also be built to show customers the methods being used to grow produce, with Smart Harvest's technology allowing for food to be grown in harsh environments using up to 90 per cent less water than traditional forms of agriculture.
“The region’s longstanding dependence on imports paired with a growing demand for fresh produce highlight the importance of local farming,” Khadija Oubala, chief executive at TSC, said. “Pure Harvest is developing a state-of-the-art local farm that can provide organic fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm to TSC stores. We are committed to providing quality, variety, value and services that customers demand, and investing in homegrown fresh produce is the way forward.”
Food security has been made a priority for many Gulf nations in recent years, even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted global supply chains. Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states currently import as much as 90 per cent of the food they consume, according to Chatham House.
Earlier this year, Pure Harvest secured a multi-stage investment commitment of $100 million (Dh367m) from Kuwait's Wafra International Investment Company to fund hiring and massive expansion of its sustainable greenhouses in Kuwait and across the wider region, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Pure Harvest’s greenhouse controls the temperature and humidity levels through software and hardware. In 2018, the company yielded its first tomato crops. More recently, the company has been experimenting with growing greens and berries in its beta greenhouse.
“Through this partnership, together TSC and Pure Harvest further food security, water conservation, economic diversification and sustainability within Kuwait and the region,” said Sky Kurtz, co-founder and chief executive of Pure Harvest Smart Farms.
The Sultan Centre was founded in 1981 and operates supermarkets in Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Bahrain.
Last year, Abu Dhabi government launched a Dh1 billion programme to support the establishment of agricultural technology companies in the emirate, as part of the Ghadan 21 stimulus package. The programme involves both cash and non-cash incentives being made available to make it easier for both local and global AgTech companies to expand.
In April, Abu Dhabi Investment Office made a $100m investment to bring four AgTech companies to the emirate.