Pure Harvest farm
An existing farm operated by Pure Harvest. The company will now scout around for additional land to develop an environment-controlled farm, whose produce will make it to the stores of The Sultan Center. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The Sultan Center, a Kuwaiti supermarket operator, is venturing into ‘agri-tech’ through a deal with UAE's Pure Harvest Smart Farms, by which the latter will build a ‘hi-tech’ farm to produce locally grown fruits and vegetables. These will then find their way into retail outlets operated by The Sultan Center and onto dining tables.

The promoters are in the process of securing the land for the farm, which could be in Kuwait or UAE. “We have not yet selected the final site for the new project… but considering many alternatives,” said Sky Kurtz, CEO of Pure Harvest. “TSC is supporting us in this search, as is our investment partner Wafra.

“We welcome land owning partners to approach us with suitable lands that are level, have access to necessary infrastructure, and, ideally, within reasonable proximity of population centers, which will minimize transport and maximize freshness). “And they should not be co-located or exposed to any potential contaminants (industrial refuse, waste, potential contaminants, etc.).”

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It was this summer that Pure Harvest secured a multi-stage investment valued at over $100 million from Wafra International Investment Company. These funds will drive research, development and deployment of controlled-environment agriculture solutions in Kuwait and across the region.

“There has never been a more pressing time to invest in food innovation in the region," said Khadija Oubala, CEO at TSC. "The region’s longstanding dependence on imports paired with growing demand for fresh produce highlight the importance of local farming."

Fund deployment

Pure Harvest will invest $30 million plus to build the facilities to supply several crops and to provide a visitor experience center, “where TSC customers can learn how we grow, sample products, educate themselves and their children about high-tech farming, about sustainability, and about the future of food in the GCC,” said Kurtz.

TSC’s commitment to this offtake partnership is designed to meet the demands of customers to deliver premium quality, locally-grown and pesticide-residue free fresh produce at affordable prices

- Nicolas Allan, Chief Operating Officer at The Sultan Center

Going for more

Sky Kurtz, CEO of Pure Harvest
For Sky Kurtz of Pure Harvest, the deal with The Sultan Center continues the deal flow, which also saw fund manager Wafra commit $100 million in multi-phase investments. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

For The Sultan Center, the Pure Harvest deal expands its growing interests in the food supply side of the business. So far, it has had ties with “traditional” food producers in Kuwait.

“This is a first-of-its-kind retailer-producer integrated partnership by any retailer n the MENA region,” Kurtz added. “Ultimately, this allows TSC’s customers to directly choose what exact products will be on the shelves at TSC. Pure Harvest and TSC will work together to educate customers on the many benefits of the product, to do in-store sampling and promotional activities, to have seasonal offerings in certain products, and much more.”

Waste not
Based on its track record, Pure Harvest is already coming out with farm produce that use up to 90 per cent less water than traditional forms of agriculture.