The use of technology in agriculture in areas affected by climate

sky Kurtz farms in the desert. The co-founder and CEO of Pure Harvest Smart Farms — located outside of Abu Dhabi, where temperatures regularly exceed 113 degrees Fahrenheit — and his team are using the challenging environment to experiment with new crops and technologies that have the potential to transform agriculture in climate-challenged regions. Pure Harvest also supplies products to supermarkets and restaurants in Dubai and across the region using less water, which is important in one of the world’s most arid regions.

Kurtz founded Pure Harvest Smart Farms in 2017 with co-founders Mahmoud Adi and Robert Kobestas. Passionate about food insecurity, they spent the first year studying high-tech food production systems around the world, as well as researching the optimal location for their first farm.


Sky Courts from Pure Harvest Smart Farms

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Kurtz Farms in the UAE started with “nothing but powerpoint, a mound of dirt, and a promise of what we’re going to do,” says Kurtz. But Pure Harvest soon proved that it was built on more than just a promise. The founders’ research and technological innovation led to the development of CEA – a combination of high-tech greenhouses and vertical farms that provide a stable climate year-round. The first crop of tomatoes was planted in August 2018 and harvested in October. The company’s original farm is now its own research and development facility, and Pure Harvest has expanded its facilities in the UAE to 16 hectares of growing area. It also operates a 6-hectare farm in Saudi Arabia, and is developing a 6-hectare farm in Kuwait.

It now produces 14 types of leafy greens; two types of strawberries, with seven more being developed; And almost 30 varieties of tomatoes, the product that started it all. With the limited availability of local and seasonal produce, the UAE has usually imported much of its food, often shipped by air, which comes at a high cost, both economically and environmentally. And while it’s more expensive compared to locally grown seasonal produce, the company says its fruits and vegetables are up to 60% cheaper than air freight imports of similar quality. “I think we radically changed a belief system that says local is worse,” Kurtz says.

Their vision fits with the broader goal of Dubai To become more self-sufficient, and have a desire to use research and development to help address the impacts climate change is already having on the food industry in the Gulf region and beyond. The focus is not only on growing for premium markets, but also on developing affordable solutions to help democratize access to fresh food.

Curtis hopes the company’s data-driven technology will become a model for other climate-stressed regions. “We believe we can develop a local versus local solution where it is most needed, and we have tested this capability in one of the harshest environments in the world,” he says.

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