“Many people are interested in indoor farming solutions because they recognize the need but don’t understand how to complete the whole project,” says Kenny McCrae, chairman of IREP (International Real Estate Partners) Farms globally and based in the UAE.
IREP, or International Real Estate Partners, has recently announced the creation of their new business division IREPfarms, who partner with Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) to deliver vertical farming solutions to the Middle East.
The IGS growing towers
According to Kenny, IREP partnered with IGS because the Scottish agtech company is focused solely on developing advanced farming solutions that are modular and scalable, whereas many other companies develop technology and operate farms. By remaining focused on improving the technology and engineering of the farming solutions, IREP is confident that together with IGS, they can provide relevant, high-tech solutions to the Middle East.
Kenny McCrae and Christina Porter
The Middle East as its initial market
Aside from being headquarted in Dubai, IREP has many reasons for focusing its agtech endeavors in the Middle East.
“Taking the UAE region alone, the population is projected to reach 11.5 million by 2025. This presents huge challenges to the economy and food security. We’re bringing precision-based agritech solutions to these challenges,” says Christina Porter, Global Head of IREPfarm.
Aside from the expected major increase in population, IREP is also keen to bring vertical farming to the Middle East because of the region’s reliance on imported fresh produce and the limitations to field-based agriculture.
“In the Middle East, 90% of fresh produce is imported and for the price that consumers pay, the quality is lacking. When COVID-19 hit, it was difficult for stores to maintain a 10-day supply, yet many things will never grow here because of the desert conditions and limited freshwater resources,” says Kenny.
He also explains that while agricultural limitations in the region may have previously thwarted investors’ interest, IREP’s ability to circumvent these challenges through precision indoor farming should put investors’ concerns at ease and allow the vertical farming industry to develop in the Middle East.
“We specialize in energy and asset management, IoT, etc. We’re now integrating farming as part of these developments and are giving investors the assurance that it’s being built properly and that their capital is secure,” Kenny says.
According to Christina, IREPfarm is looking forward to leveraging both IREP and IGS’ expertise and experience to develop its product offering and is very excited to be bringing something special and unique to the region.
Further, vertical farming initiatives in the Middle East have been supported by local governments as these projects may allow regions to reach their sustainability targets more quickly by using resources efficiently and reducing the carbon footprint of the incumbent food system. IREP is thus keen to form partnerships across the region and spearhead the development of vertical farming in the Middle East.
For more information:
Kenny McCrae, chairman of IREP Farms global
Christina Porter, Global Head of IREPfarm