Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has signed a joint venture agreement with AeroFarms, a US-based vertical farming company, to establish a company in Riyadh to build and operate indoor vertical farms in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
In a statement, PIF said that the agreement will optimise the utilisation of natural resources, including water and agricultural lands, through the implementation of indoor vertical farming, with no need for arable land. This will result in significantly higher yields and using up to 95% less water compared to traditional field farming, it added.
Majed AlAssaf, 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,” he stated.
AlAssaf added that the partnership is expected to enable sustainable, local sourcing of high-quality crops all year round, grown using AeroFarms’ proprietary smart agriculture technology (AgTech) platform. This will help solve broader supply chain needs in the industry, the statement added.
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 kilograms of agricultural crops.
David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of AeroFarms, said: “Our mission is to grow the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity, and we created AeroFarms to help solve the greatest agriculture challenges and increase food resiliency around the world.
“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.”
Vertical Farming Leader
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 trade balance, localise technologies, develop industries and the overall growth and diversification of the Saudi economy.
PIF is investing to localise new agricultural technologies that can benefit the local private sector, expanding its market reach and positioning Saudi Arabia as a leader in vertical farming. In turn, AeroFarms has a strong track record of creating large-scale commercial farms with a reputation for high quality and consistency of production, along with experienced management, and an advanced technology and research and design team.