"Resilience is going to become a key element of food security"

When it comes to rethinking agriculture to create better products with much less impact 365 days a year on a large scale, Cristián Sjögren and Pablo Bunster, two professionals from the renewable energy sector, left their jobs behind to bring sustainable farming to cities.

A little over two years ago they formed AgroUrbana, a startup dedicated to vertical agriculture, which consists of producing food in vertically stacked layers, in their case using LED lights and hydroponic cultivation, to provide the light and water necessary to harvest vegetables with nutrition. very accurate in spaces with controlled climates. 

In 2020, despite the fact that its creators consider that much more work needs to be done to advance in a country where traditional agriculture prevails, they have managed to expand their distribution channels. “Our investors and clients are excited. We have seen a very positive reception from the markets ”explains Bunster, who points out that last August they began to sell their vegetables in Jumbo, and since last week they have been in the North American multinational Walmart. 

“The new generations read the label in the supermarket more than any other. The sophistication of the consumer is demanding more from the producers, and the way agriculture has been done until today has not been able to cope with these consumption conditions. This is part of the value of bringing vertical agriculture to Chile ”, says Pablo Bunster, who sees in the startup a possible solution by automating food production.

In March 2020, AgroUrbana closed its second round of financing, which was led by the CLIN fund of ChileGlobal Ventures, the Venture Capital area of ​​Fundación Chile. To date, the startup adds USD 1.5 million in financing, in which funds from Venture Capital, Family Offices and individuals have participated, which has allowed them to reach an advanced stage of the AgroUrbana Series A round for USD $ 4 million, to finance the construction of a much larger scale vertical farm. 

Meanwhile, AgroUrbana's “plant science” scientific team has created, adapted and integrated very diverse technologies that operate on the basis of evidence. Advances have allowed them to sell about 15 tons of products, test more than 80 varieties of vegetables and operate 18 thousand hours non-stop with a pandemic in tow. "Resilience is going to become a key element of food security," says Sjögren. 

Read the complete article at La Tercera (In Spanish)

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