The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) is pumping a total of 367 million UAE dirhams ($100 million) across four agriculture technology (AgTech) companies to develop next-generation agriculture products, services or applications in Abu Dhabi.

The ADIO investment forms part of its 1 billion dirhams ($272 million) AgTech Incentive Programme, which was established last year under the Abu Dhabi Government’s Ghadan 21 Accelerator Programme and will run for three years.

The Abu Dhabi entity has partnered with agriculture technology startups - AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI) - to establish new Research and Development (R&D) and production facilities in the emirate.

“Our latest investment in the four AgTech innovators targets multiple points along the value chain, unified by the goal of driving solutions to transform farming in the desert,” ADIO’s Director General Tariq Bin Hendi told Zawya over email.

AeroFarms will build the world’s largest indoor vertical farm in Abu Dhabi; Madar Farms will construct the world’s first commercial-scale indoor tomato farm using only LED lights; RNZ will carry out research and will formulate and commercialise new, efficient "agri-input" solutions; and RDI will conduct research trials using plant-responsive irrigation to conserve water and increase crop yields in desert climates and non-arable land.

Bin Hendi pointed out that the four companies would join an existing ecosystem of 24,000 farms in Abu Dhabi.

“We are looking into ways that the existing farms can integrate new technology, including the technology that the four companies are working on, into the ways they are operating. There is a symbiotic relationship between these AgTech innovators and what we already have on the ground,” he said.

The Director General pointed out that the new R&D centres being built in Abu Dhabi through this investment will develop the emirate’s capacity to address many of the challenges of farming in the desert.

“Many of these technologies will help to improve cost-effectiveness, either by lowering the cost or usage of inputs, or improving the quality and consistency of yields. Following the demonstration of proof of concept in Abu Dhabi, the goal is to eventually export these AgTech solutions regionally and globally, advancing desert and arid agriculture in other markets.”

The packages of cash and non-cash incentives awarded to the AgTech companies, according to ADIO’s statement, include rebates of up to 75 percent on R&D expenditure upon commercialisation of new solutions developed in Abu Dhabi.

“We hope the ability of these companies to develop and commercialise meaningful AgTech solutions will pave the way for future investments,” he said.

With the current allocation, ADIO has allocated approximately 40 percent of the AgTech Incentive Programme funding in the first year of the three-year programme.

(Writing by Anoop Menon; editing by Seban Scaria)

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