Pure Harvest Smart Farms, an agriculture technology start-up, that grows fruits and vegetables in the United Arab Emirates desert has secured $60 million in funding.
Shua Capital, according to Gulf Business, led a $50 mn structured sukuk for Pure Harvest co-investing with Franklin Templeton and Sancta Capital, among others, in the start-up through its managed funds as part of this funding round.
Sky Kurtz, CEO and Co-founder, told CNBC that Pure Harvest Smart Farms will use the capital to build its beachhead in Saudi Arabia, and also plans to expand its portfolio of produce. The company also raised $50 million through Islamic bonds, which are debt instruments that comply with Shariah law.
He acknowledged that having raised $200 million in capital at Series A stage is extremely large both regionally and globally, but feels that Pure Harvest has secured less funding compared to agriculture tech companies in the United States and Asia. “That’s because the Middle East venture market is less developed,” he said. “They are maturing quickly, but it is still a relatively nascent market.”
Kurtz highlighted businesses such as vertical firm Plenty in the US, which as per Crunchbase, raised more than $500 million. “A lot of these companies have secured a lot more capital than we have, yet admittedly, our market need is great. We fundamentally import 80 to 90% of the fresh fruits and vegetables in this region.”
Kurtz said their pilot in the desert showed very promising results, the potential for year-round local production at very high quality and at a very good cost structure. Its a known fact that the harsh Middle East climate makes countries in the region heavily reliant on food imports. And the COVID-19 pandemic brought food insecurity to the fore.
He said Pure Harvest’s capital has been sourced from all over the world and we have had to fight for it because attracting venture capital to the Middle East is more difficult.
Pure Harvest will soon complete its second high-tech hybrid greenhouse growing system within the UAE. It is currently constructing its beachhead in Saudi Arabia, and has announced a further EUR39 million expansion project in Kuwait. Upon completion of its new projects, the company will produce a variety of tomatoes, leafy greens and berries.