The Abu Dhabi investment Office (ADIO) announced that it will invest $100 million (AED 367 million) in total in four agritech companies. The four companies will build facilities in Abu Dhabi dedicated to developing next generation agriculture in arid and desert agriculture.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office, launched a targeted incentive program in 2019. It aims is to accelerate the growth of the emirate’s burgeoning agritech ecosystem and promote innovation.
ADIO has already allocated approximately 40% of the AgTech Incentive Programme funding in the first year of the three-year programme. Agritech companies looking to establish or grow their presence in Abu Dhabi can sign up to the programme.
ADIO has partnered individually with AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI). These companies are expected to establish new R&D and production facilities in the emirate. They are also tasked with turning sand into farmland, solving complex global agriculture challenges and expanding the profile of local food producers.
AeroFarms is a sustainable indoor agriculture company based in the USA. It uses a patented aeroponic growing system to grow produce. It will focus on next-generation genetic phenotyping and organoleptic research while also tackling the challenges of desert agriculture from its new 8,200-sqm R&D centre in Abu Dhabi. The centre will be the largest indoor vertical farm of its kind in the world. It will employ over 60 highly skilled engineers, horticulturists and scientists. Additionally AeroFarms’ R&D centre will work with local universities on research projects.
Madar Farms is a home-grown UAE AgTech innovator established in 2017. It will build the world’s first commercial-scale indoor tomato farm using only LED lights. The company is also set to scale up the commercialisation of microgreen growing. This will help provide a consistent and predictable local food supply that responsibly uses the region’s natural resources. Madar Farms has an established R&D facility in Abu Dhabi’s sustainable urban community that aims to demonstrate the commercial and technical viability of Controlled Environment Agriculture in the challenging climatic conditions of the UAE.
Responsive Drip Irrigation
RDI has developed a disruptive irrigation technology that allows plants to self-regulate water and nutrient delivery. This plant-responsive irrigation system is capable of growing plants in the harshest of environments, while using minimal amounts of water. RDI’s Abu Dhabi research trials will work to establish best practices for water conservation and food production in desert climates. RDI’s research and production facility in Abu Dhabi will become the company’s global production and distribution hub for the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Established in the UAE, RNZ has been producing customized solutions for farming communities since 2004. The company produces fully customized crop specific blends that improve the productivity and value of crops, and exports to South Asia, East Asia, Africa and the MENA region. RNZ will set up a R&D centre to develop a full range of efficient organic and inorganic agri-input solutions for vertical farms, hydroponics and conventional farms.
What Is ADIO Offering?
ADIO offers packages of cash and non-cash incentives awarded to the agritech companies. Including rebates of up to 75% on R&D expenditure upon commercialization of new solutions developed in Abu Dhabi. The packages are being dispersed as part of ADIO’s AED 1 billion (USD 272 million) AgTech Incentive Programme, established a year ago under the Abu Dhabi Government’s Ghadan 21 Accelerator Programme that is focusing on economic, knowledge and community development across the emirate.
Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said: “It is amazing to see the ‘desert-turn-green’ before our eyes… Our Ghadan 21 accelerator programme was launched just over a year ago and already, we are seeing tremendous progress. Targeted initiatives, like ADIO’s AgTech Incentive Programme, foster innovation in the emirate to solve regional challenges and create highly skilled jobs.”
Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Four global AgTech innovators are joining our mission to turn sand into farmland. In line with Abu Dhabi’s long-term vision to grow the sector, ADIO partners with companies that have innovation at the core to help ensure long-term success. Each of these companies will add to our already established agriculture ecosystem, and benefit from our plentiful land, natural heat, competitive energy prices and access to research universities and skilled talent.”
Agritech in Abu Dhabi
Agritech has been marked as a priority sector by the Abu Dhabi Government. Abu Dhabi is looking to solve global agriculture problems through innovation and R&D investments. The combination of desert climate, sunlight and land availability makes Abu Dhabi a natural location to develop agritech applied to desert environments.
There are approximately 24,000 farms currently operating in Abu Dhabi. Many use modern irrigation and hydroponic techniques to grow produce in minimal water.
If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.