Pure Harvest Smart farms is a tech company that tries to disrupt the agricultural market in the UAE by tackling the problem of food security.
In the UAE where the climate is arid and very hot most of the time of the year, growing local and fresh vegetables can be a challenge or even impossible. There are imports from other countries to secure fresh vegetable supply year-round, but due to the air freight, the products aren’t fresh and are expensive. An issue that Pure Harvest farm tries to address by bringing the best of agriculture technology to develop fresh and locally grown tomatoes in the UAE. Today the company has raised $100 million to expand its production, and start growing in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. We met Sky Kurtz, its CEO, and Co-Founder.
What is controlled environment agriculture and why is it so important in the UAE today?
Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is the strategy taken by Pure Harvest to tackle the issue of food security. This means we engage in CEA with hybrid growing solutions that provide precise climate and environmental controls to deliver quality fresh produce. Pure Harvest’s CEA ensures increased productivity and reduced waste (including water, energy, time, and transport). The UAE is the perfect starting point for us to expand our agritech solutions into other import-reliant regions. There is a huge amount of sun energy waiting to be harnessed!
In which aspects is Pure Harvest disrupting the industry compared to other traditional greenhouses?
The UAE’s arid climate is the right laboratory for the conditions needed for this kind of project and as a result, Pure Harvest is now entering the world stage as a tech-agricultural business tackling the problem of food security. Some other vertical farming countries in the world such as the United States, Holland, France are looking at similar solutions but don’t have the right conditions or a laboratory. The gap between traditional greenhouse countries and import countries has been bridged, this is particularly relevant given the risk of long term import reliance exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
What kind of technologies do you use to grow fresh vegetables in the hostile climate of the UAE?
Pure Harvest integrates world-leading Dutch greenhouse growing technologies together with our proprietary climate management systems. Pure Harvest seeks to leverage innovative semi-closed growing technology (with overpressure climate control and mechanical cooling) in order to pioneer year-round production of affordable, premium quality fresh produce.
What kind of crops do you grow in your greenhouses today?
We are currently growing 26 varieties of tomatoes and 6 varieties of strawberries. We are creating new markets, not just displacing existing commercial import markets. There are over 400 commercial varieties of tomato, and Pure Harvest is proud to grow six that have never before been seen. We’re aiming to be able to produce anything which already grows under a Mediterranean climate in any variety.
Last April, you secured a multi-stage investment commitment valued at over USD 100 million with Wafra Investment company. Which kind of developments do you expect for the company?
This year, the company entered into a first-of-its-kind retailer-integration partnership with The Sultan Centre (TSC) in Kuwait, creating a ‘farm center’ that will include edutainment, a retail farmers’ market, and an integrated café. We are completely committed to supporting public initiatives focused on improved food security, water conservation, skilled job creation, and economic diversification. Through constant engagement with governments, schools, and research institutions, we believe that together, we can lead the Middle East into the next generation of sustainable agriculture.