UAE’s Pure Harvest Smart Farms raises $60mn to fund GCC expansion

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Abu Dhabi-based agri-tech company Pure Harvest Farms has raised $60 million in two financing deals that will help it grow its operations and expand into other GCC markets.

US-based Sancta Capital and Franklin Templeton were anchor investors in a Shuaa Capital-led structured Islamic debt deal that raised $50 million for the venture. Sancta Capital led a $10 million equity financing round in January.

Mr. Sky Kurtz, Co-founder and Chief Executive of Pure Harvest pointed out that the funding “supports our aggressive growth campaign within the GCC region. This type of financing underscores the innovation occurring within the region’s venture capital markets.”

Pure Harvest, which raised $29.3 million in Series A financing last year, intends to produce sustainably-grown local produce throughout the year.

Meanwhile, the proceeds from the latest funding deals will be used to support capacity expansion, attract new talent, and accelerate research and development, including collaboration projects with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office.

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for domestic food production to reduce reliance on international supply chains, Mr. Kurtz said.

Last year, the pandemic, which has affected worldwide brought global trade to a halt. Border closures to stop the virus from spreading revealed vulnerabilities in food-importing countries.

According to an independent policy institute Chatham House, between 80 and 90 percent of food in the GCC is imported. However, the UAE has made enhancing food security and agricultural innovation a top priority.

As part of the government’s Ghadan 21 accelerator initiative, the Abu Dhabi government has already set aside $272 million for an agri-tech incentive program.

UAE-based private sector investment catalyst Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) announced that it would distribute $41 million to three technology companies, Pure Harvest, FreshToHome, and Nanoracks, to build local expertise and new ways of producing food in arid climates.

Efforts to boost local food production are now bearing fruit, with the amount of locally harvested produce increasingly growing as farming projects use technology to increase production.

Mr. Mohieddine Kronfol, global Sukuk, and Mena fixed income chief investment officer at Franklin Templeton commented that “investors seeking access to middle-market credit transactions is increasing across the region, and is particularly exciting in growth sectors that are addressing global challenges like water scarcity and food security.”

Pure Harvest said that it will invest more than $35.85 million in a high-tech farm in Kuwait to supply fresh fruit and vegetables to The Sultan Centre, one of Kuwait’s largest independent supermarket operators.

Last year, the company received a $100 million multi-stage investment commitment from Kuwait’s Wafra International Investment Company to finance hiring and expansion across the country.

“We are passionate about our mission to make local-for-local production of high-quality fresh produce possible anywhere, including within the harsh climate of our home the Arabian Gulf,” Mr. Kurtz added.

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