Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF signed an agreement this week with Newark-based AeroFarms to set up a new company in Riyadh that will build and operate indoor vertical farms in the wider Middle East and North Africa region.
The first farm in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to be the largest indoor vertical farm of its kind in the region, will have an annual production capacity of up to 1.1 million kilograms of agricultural crops.
The agreement is expected to optimize the use 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% less water versus traditional field farming.
PIF said it 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.
“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,” 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.”
“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,” Majed AlAssaf, head of consumer goods and retail, MENA Investments Division at PIF, said. “PIF is enabling the growth of the food and agriculture sector and localizing technology that can benefit private sector industry participants.”