UAE-based Hydroponics Startup Looks To Raise $4.5 Million To Farm In The Desert

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Pure Harvest Smart Farms, a UAE-based agri-tech startup in the field of hydroponics, will soon complete a $4.5 million funding in a seed round to finance its 3.3-hectare farm site in Nahel, it said in a statement.

The firm raised roughly 60% of the round in addition to securing investments from its board, for which it has rejigged the board and made new appointments.

Pure Harvest expects the new appointments to help with technology selection, operational execution, legal structuring, corporate development and strategy as it expands its footprint across the Middle East, it said.

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.

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.

At the 3.3-hectare farm site in Nahel, the firm intends to establish the nation’s first commercial-scale greenhouse to produce tomatoes.

In October, Pure Harvest raised $1.1 million from Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq Investments.

The company’s solution uses over-pressure climate control technology with a hybrid evaporative and mechanical cooling system to maintain optimal indoor climate conditions.

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 claims 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.

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.