Pure Harvest Smart Farms, an agri-tech startup in the field of hydroponics, has raised $1.1 million from Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq Investments, it said in a statement.
Pure Harvest, co-founded by Sky Kurtz, a former private equity investor based in Silicon Valley, and his Emirati business partner Mahmoud Adi, plans to bring the latest hydroponics farming techniques to the UAE.
Hydroponics farming is the process of growing plants in solutions, rather than soil, allowing for the careful control of the nutrients the plants receive.
Shorooq also acquired a 3.3-hectare farm site in Nahel, UAE where Pure Harvest intends to establish the nation’s first high-tech, commercial-scale greenhouse to produce tomatoes.
Shorooq claims to be a new kind of investment company in the region – one that is bringing best practices from the Silicon Valley to the most exciting new companies in the GCC, while leveraging its San Francisco Bay Area network.
Pure Harvest intends to cultivate high-value crops in modern glasshouses using a semi-closed climate controlled growing system that is built to overcome the challenges of year-round production in the littoral areas of the GCC region.
The company’s solution uses over-pressure climate control technology with a hybrid evaporative and mechanical cooling system to maintain optimal indoor climate conditions, it said in a statement.
In a market where existing commercial farms are forced to cease vegetable production during the summer period lasting June-October, the startup claims to offer technology that will deliver a tangible food security solution.
Pure Harvest aims to substitute high cost, air-freighted, seasonal imports and instead supply premium quality produce directly to retailers, airlines and hospitality food distributors.
The technology, it says, enables water conservation and carbon dioxide dosing, achieving high productivity for a variety of crops including tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers, eggplants, and strawberries.
“The region’s economies have begun to experiment with the use of mid-tech hydroponic technologies. However, nobody has so far (made a commitment to) invest capital and deploy technologies needed to produce high-quality produce at a commercial scale in hot/humid areas bordering the Arabian Gulf,” said Kurtz, Pure Harvest’s Founder and CEO.
Can revolutionize regional food production
“Ultra-modern hydroponics – called controlled environment agriculture or precision agriculture – has vast potential to revolutionize the agriculture sector,” said Adi, Pure Harvest’s co-founder and director.
It plans to grow crops year-round in a “natural substrate”. The substrate – or the material chosen by Pure Harvest – will be derived from coconut shavings. It will not use pesticides.
Internet-connected sensors will monitor crops and precision-feed individual plants according to need, while the air will be dosed with CO2 to make the plants grow well.
Other hydroponic farms in the UAE include Elite Agro and Emirates Hydroponics.