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UAE: Tapping into fruiting crops and adding new facilities throughout the MEASA region

Launched in 2017 with its inaugural farm operational in 2018, Pure Harvest Smart Farms (Pure Harvest) is a mission-driven, technology-enabled agribusiness, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, focused on the year-round, sustainable production of premium-quality fresh fruits and vegetables.

Pure Harvest's production facility which is positioned between Dubai and Al Ain

The company is pioneering CEA in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia regions, harnessing technology and world-class growing techniques to tackle pressing challenges, including food security, water conservation, economic diversification, and sustainability needs, in some of the harshest environments in the world.

"Initially, our commercial-scale pilot high-tech, a hybrid greenhouse in Al Ain, UAE, was used primarily to grow tomatoes to supply local retailers," explains Jan Prins, Head Grower at Pure Harvest. After demonstrating both production quality and economic potential, Pure Harvest began to expand its crop range, including cultivating strawberries.

Jan Prins 

Expanding the fruit basket
"Ever since we've demonstrated that we can produce tomatoes of consistently high quality, we were set to expand our operations."

The company indeed currently supplies over 3,000 kg of strawberries each week from its original Al Ain hybrid greenhouse, which is now used exclusively for R&D. 

Then, in another 1.5-hectare facility, Pure Harvest is growing lettuce, spinach, arugula, and kale, among other leafy greens. At the same time, the company has another 6-hectare greenhouse in Saudi Arabia, exclusively growing tomatoes.

Ongoing harvesting at the strawberry greenhouse

In 2022, the company acquired an existing 11-hectare high-tech greenhouse from BayWa AG. Pure Harvest then invested to retrofit this facility to mirror its existing growing systems, intending to improve its production potential and make-possible year-round production. The company has recently planted over 7 hectares of tomatoes and 3 hectares of strawberries in this reborn facility, where production has already begun. 

At the R&D facility, the company is currently trialing blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. That is also because next year Pure Harvest expects to open a new, 5-hectare facility, where the company will grow raspberries, in addition to tomatoes and bell peppers.

The end product, fresh strawberries

Eyes on Asia
Pure Harvest is looking to bring its cultivation expertise beyond the GCC region to Asia, where in October 2022, they announced intentions to build the company's first-ever facility in Singapore. Pure Harvest is actively considering other markets in Asia, including Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. 

Jan adds, "We are aware that there are many opportunities in the Asian market, and that's why we are investigating every aspect that'd make our cultivation thrive in such a climate, aligned to the economic characteristics of the target market." That facility will span over 2 hectares and will be used by Pure Harvest to understand the best-growing methods for the Southeast Asian climate.

"Since we gained so much knowledge growing in the desert, we are 100% sure that we are going to succeed with our unique growing systems in Southeast Asia as well." Not only is it crucial to understand the different variables, but also to find the right varieties. "We cooperate with seed companies so that we are kept up-to-date on new varieties and products, but also to define certain products with them, particularly for light-loving varieties that can be grown well in our conditions."

Investment landscape
Despite the big opportunities in this market, the number of CEA investments is shrinking. "Investors have become more cautious and a bit smarter. They are getting more educated about the sector and looking for results rather than feel-good stories. As long as you can show a working business model and profits, then investors will keep coming your way." Showing results and achievements is instrumental for a company like Pure Harvest which is looking to expand.

"We are going to expand in the existing market in Saudi Arabia, but also into the smaller regional markets, including Qatar, Bahrain, and potentially Oman. Outside of the GCC, our recent MoU with the Singapore Food Agency showcases our developments in promising frontier markets. Through our partnership, we are excited to develop Singapore's first high-tech, hybrid greenhouse growing system and to provide local people with high-quality, always-available fresh produce - similar to what we originally did throughout the UAE," Jan concludes.

Pure Harvest Farms is looking to expand its team. Click here for the available vacancies.

For more information:
Pure Harvest Farms