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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has signed a joint venture agreement with US-based AeroFarms to establish a company in Riyadh to build and operate indoor vertical farms in the Kingdom and the wider Middle East and North Africa region.
The deal will allow the joint venture to use AeroFarms’ proprietary smart agriculture technology platform, AgTech, to produce high-quality crops all year round.
The agreement will optimize the utilization of natural resources, including water and agricultural lands, through the implementation of indoor vertical farming, with no need for arable land, resulting in significantly higher yields and using up to 95 percent less water versus traditional field farming, according to a PIF statement.
The joint venture plans to build and operate several farms across the region in the next few years. The first farm in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to be the largest indoor vertical farm of its kind in the MENA region, will have an annual production capacity of up to 1.1 million kilos of agricultural crops.
Majed Al-Assaf, head of consumer goods and retail, MENA Investments Division at PIF, said: “The agreement with AeroFarms will lead to the establishment of indoor vertical farms in Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, increasing regional reliance on locally produced, high-quality crops grown in a sustainable way using the latest technologies. PIF is enabling the growth of the food and agriculture sector and localizing technology that can benefit private sector industry participants.”
The partnership aligns with PIF’s strategy, which focuses on developing and enabling the capabilities of key sectors, including food and agriculture, which will contribute to improving the trade balance, localizing technologies, developing industries, and the overall growth and diversification of the Saudi economy.
David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms, said: “We are excited to partner with PIF to build our first large-scale commercial farm in Saudi Arabia, where the growing conditions are challenging with limited access to fresh water and arable land, and we envision building together smart indoor vertical farms throughout the broader MENA region.”
PIF is investing to localize new agricultural technologies that can benefit the local private sector, expanding its market reach and positioning Saudi Arabia as a leader in vertical farming.