The move comes at a moment of intense investment growth in the Gulf region’s agtech industry, which is bolstered by significant government support programs. With a predominance of arid soils and low water resources, GCC countries rely on imports to feed their population’s growing demand for fresh, healthy food.
“I think this is the most important region in the world that requires indoor farming right now,” said iFarm co-founder Maxim Chizhov. “There are a lot of potential clients here. However, we continue to operate globally, and our valued clients in Europe, Americas and other regions will not be affected.”
Founded in 2017, iFarm provides bespoke vertical farming systems enabled with software and automation. These indoor facilities can grow fresh greens, berries, and other crops year-round in any climate, while drastically reducing water consumption vs. greenhouses and open-air farms.
19 facilities with iFarm technology are operating or being built worldwide, largely in Europe and the Middle East. In Riyadh, a farm with 2500 sq m of grow area owned by Bather Farm has an estimated monthly production capacity of 16 tons. This includes microgreens, herbs and leafy greens. Another commercial-scale iFarm facility is under construction in Dubai, in partnership with agtech company SpaceFarm (UAE).
Moving the headquarters to UAE is part of iFarm’s major expansion into the Middle East. Still, the company plans to use this base to extend its reach into the Asia-Pacific region as well.
“We’ve started in Indonesia but we already have requests from the Philippines and Singapore,” Chizov said. “This is a goal, that we work from our headquarters in the MENA region and work with Asia Pacific also.”
With some studies showing that 86 million people in the MENA region are insufficiently supplied with healthy food, iFarm’s growth in that part of the world is just beginning.