Drone technology has been recently introduced in Cambodia's cassava cultivations to help small-scale farmers earn better yields while bringing down the costs of farm input
Pure Harvest Smart Farms (Pure Harvest), a world-leading sustainable technology-enabled agribusiness, raised US$180.5mn in their latest growth funding round
The financing was embraced by a consortium of key global investors, including Metric Capital Partners, UK, IMM Investment Corp, Korea, and Olayan Group, KSA, joined by several existing investors and management. The company will utilise the capital, together with various forms of debt financing, to invest in research and development, to expand its footprint across the GCC, and to open new markets in Asia.
This represents the largest-ever convertible financing in the MEASA region. The funding round was vastly oversubscribed, and a few strategic investors are still in discussions for further upsizing, underscoring the strong institutional investor appetite for Pure Harvest. The growth capital cements Pure Harvest’s role as the MEASA region’s champion within the fast-emerging, global high-tech agriculture ecosystem.
Sky Kurtz, co-founder and CEO at Pure Harvest Smart Farms said, “We are humbled by this investment from an esteemed group of global investors, backing our mission: to harness the wonders of science, the power of nature, and the passions of people to provide tasty, affordable, sustainably-grown fresh produce anywhere. At Pure Harvest we have demonstrated we can reliably deploy our high-tech farming solutions across the GCC. Now it is time to enter new markets that share similar challenges to our own – fast-growing populations, seasonal import-dependence, and an awareness of the crippling effects that short-term crises (e.g. COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine conflict), and climate change, are having on our global food system. The future of farming is here… now, we have the resources to bring our solution to the world.”
Metric Capital Partners, the London headquartered, pan-European private equity investor providing capital solutions to mid-sized companies across a wide variety of industries, was a co-lead investor. Bjørn Tessiore, Partner at Metric Capital Partners said, “We are delighted to support the continued growth of Pure Harvest. It’s clear that controlled-environment agriculture is becoming increasingly important as a solution to food security issues while also mitigating the environmental impact of food production.”
Commenting for IMM Investment Corp, the leading alternative investment firm in Korea, who announced an initial US$50mn investment in Pure Harvest in October, Hyun-Chan Cho, Partner at IMM commented, “Due to our longstanding successful investment in Farm8 (PlanTFarm), we knew the CEA space well. With Pure Harvest, we saw a complementary solution that let us double-down on an investment thesis that we continue to believe in, and that tangibly contributes to global food security, water conservation, economic diversification, and sustainability objectives. We are proud to actively support Pure Harvest as it brings its solution to Asian markets.”
The Olayan Financing Company, a Saudi company holding and managing the Olayan Group’s Middle Eastern assets, was another key investor in this round of fundraising. A spokesperson for the company, discussed their recent investment. “Pure Harvest’s character aligns closely to our own: they saw an impending global food security crisis and have taken an important step to solve it. The climate and water challenges Pure Harvest works to overcome is vital to the global economy.”
An international research collaboration is planning to explore new ways of monitoring crop growth with biodegradable sensors which can be composted at the end of their lifespan
The US$2.2mn CHIST-ERA project, called Transient Electronics for Sustainable ICT in Digital Agriculture, is led by researchers from the University of Glasgow and supported by colleagues in Canada, Finland, Poland and Switzerland.
Over the next three years, the project partners will work together to develop a new type of environmentally-friendly modular sensor system.
They will find ways to create devices built from sustainable and degradable materials with the aim of cutting down on the growing problem of electronic waste.
The devices will have two parts – a solar-powered patch which can be applied to the surface of the leaves of crops to measure key indicators of their growth and an electronic module which can wirelessly transmit the information collected by the patch to a central computer.
The team aims to make the patch completely biodegradable, and capable of nourishing the soil once it reaches the end of its period of usefulness. To do so, they will investigate how compostable electronic components might be made from everyday materials like rice husks, fibrous proteins like wool, or biodegradable polymers like starch or cellulose, combined with conductive metal nanoparticles made from materials like copper and zinc.
They will also explore how those compostable components could be powered by similarly biodegradable organic photovoltaic materials to support the patch’s tasks of monitoring pH, temperature and bio impedance, with energy stored in a biodegradable super capacitor. Super capacitors provide a sustainable, non-toxic alternative for conventional batteries.
At the same time, the team will also be working to develop an electronic module equipped with wireless communication technology. A key priority of the design for the module is that it will be reusable and repairable to help minimise waste.
Professor Ravinder Dahiya, of the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering, is the project’s coordinator.
Professor Dahiya said, “The Internet of Things has huge potential to revolutionise every aspect of human activity, from home lives to global industry. Harnessing the power of the internet of things is particularly attractive in farming, where the challenges of growing crops as we adapt to the unpredictable effects of climate change will require close monitoring of fields and quick responses to problems to maximise crop yields.
“However, the proliferation of digital devices that underpin the internet of things will is also leading to a massive expansion in digital waste. As much as 80% of our electronic devices currently end up as waste. As potentially dangerous materials in components like batteries and printed circuit boards degrade, they create hazards to the environment and to human and animal health which can last for decades.
“What we’re setting out to do with this project is to build hardware which is designed from the start to be disposable without creating problematic waste. In fact, the waste materials from our sensors will help to grow future crops of the plants they once monitored.
The research is funded by URKI in the UK, FRQNT in Canada, Academy of Finland in Finland, NCN in Poland and SNSF in Switzerland.
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