Middle East has potential to be among world's lowest cost food producers

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of global supply chains, specifically for fresh food, Sky Kurtz, the head of Pure Harvest Smart Farms told the World Green Economy Summit on Thursday. He said the crisis highlighted how the world’s dependence on food imports affects food security and how oil-dependent economies should not become “beholden to the world to supply your food needs for a fast-growing population”.

The company, which aims to produce fruit and vegetables throughout the year, has raised $216 million so far, securing $60 million through two financing deals in March with plans to raise another $100m this year as it scales up operations and expands into other GCC markets.

The company’s greenhouse, which controls the temperature and humidity levels through software and hardware, yielded its first tomato crops in 2018 before later branching out into growing greens and berries in its beta greenhouse.

Mr. Kurtz told the WGES summit that the Middle East can be one of the lowest cost food producers in the world, despite its “limited water and crazy climate”. The cost structure involved in farming anywhere in the world includes light to power the plants and the systems as well as labor, land, energy, CO2, water, taxation, transport, and capital, Mr. Kurtz said. But when the Middle East is benchmarked against Holland, the lowest cost producer in the world, Mr. Kurtz said the region had "twice the sunlight, a fraction of the labor cost, very low taxes and cheaper energy", including “the lowest cost solar deployments in the world.” The region also has plenty of land and good transport links, he said.

“We’re within an hour of our consumer, so we pick it, pack it, cool it, and ship it the same day or next day, right to the consumer instead of airfreighting it across the ocean,” he said. “Now it becomes intuitive how this can be very low cost.”

Read the complete article at www.thenationalnews.com.

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