saudi farmer vertical farm

Saudi Farmer Has Built The Region’s First Vertical Farm

The Saudi farmer Omar Al-Jundi even he is not related to farming by degree. But that is exactly where the industrial engineer found his calling, when he built the region’s first vertical farm in the heart of Dubai. Born in Egypt to Saudi parents, Al-Jundi spent his early years in Alkhobar due to his father’s engineering firm.

The family moved to Jeddah when he was 12 years old. His last two years of schooling were spent at Bahrain School in Manama. “I wanted to graduate with an American high school diploma,” Al-Jundi said. “At the time, as a Saudi, you couldn’t attend private foreign schools.” Upon graduation, he left the region to study industrial engineering, followed by an MBA at the University of Miami in Florida. Although his father is an engineer and his mother an architect, Al Jundi delved into the world of banking for two and a half years when he moved back to Jeddah upon graduating.

“I then shifted to the hospitality industry, opened the first lounge in Jeddah along with other restaurants with my friends, and ended up selling my share and joining my father’s company,” he said. “You learn that you’re better off doing something on your own than having partners because you end up changing directions.”
After 10 years of “paying his dues” in the family business, he felt compelled to change directions. “As an Arab, you’re always closely tied to the family,” he said. “We’re blessed my father started a business and there’s a place for us in that business, but luckily, my younger brother was a lot more interested in it — I always felt my calling was somewhere else.”

In search of his true passion, he started his journey as an entrepreneur. The field he specialized in had yet to be determined. “I felt that there was a meaning for something else,” Al-Jundi said. “I was free and my family was very supportive.”
Countless research and books later, he became intrigued by the tech space, admitting he believed he would start the next Amazon. “That didn’t follow through,” he said. “Then I thought it would be in mining, but I always looked for something that was away from my comfort zone such as engineering, contracting, real estate and consulting. Just something different. It was a process.”

The young Saudi had reached a point in his life where he felt the need to do something impactful, something which added true value to the region. Eventually, two of his friends introduced him to the concept of modern farming. “I visited some orange farms in Egypt and I was in exploration research mode,” he said. “I enjoyed seeing nature — you’re a lot more relaxed. Here, when you go in and see the plants growing every day, there’s definitely a connection, because you’re seeing the end product, you’re feeling it, and I connect to them.”

The more research he immersed himself in, the more driven his interest became. At the time, the Saudi Government was focused on addressing food security and self-sufficiency. “It’s always been a big topic,” he said. “When you fly out of Riyadh, you find these big circular green spots as they’re trying to green and farm the desert, which was successful, but on the other hand, it depleted our water resources.” According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, agriculture represents around 70 per cent of water consumption in most of the GCC countries. But Al-Jundi did not give up on the thought.

After moving to Dubai in 2014, he learned about King Abdullah’s Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad. Half the capital needed for agricultural projects was offered to Saudis who invested in a list of 31 countries abroad to purchase land, set up a project and export the food back to the Kingdom. It gave him an idea to start his own vertical farm. “I knew it was a big topic,” he said. “I’d never heard we could grow food with no soil. I thought it was intriguing and fascinating. It was enough for me to know there was something there to explore it further.”

With more than 90 per cent of the region’s land unsuitable for agriculture, Al-Jundi set out to find a solution. He spent the following 12 weeks taking courses in aquaponics, aquaculture, hydroponics and horticulture in California and the Netherlands. He even spent time working in a cucumber greenhouse at the Delphy facility in Holland, where he acquired valuable experience in the field. “It was really professional and a great learning experience,” he said. “That’s when I knew what I wanted to do. And I knew I had to completely immerse myself in it.”
The team of Badia Farms, which he founded in Al Quoz in December last year, consists of 12 people, all of whom have experience in farming. “It took 18 months to get it up and running because we didn’t work with any technical partner,” Al-Jundi said. “I knew I was in it for the long haul, so I worked with different growers and learned.”

The 850-square-meter facility includes a “fertigation” room, which fertilizes and irrigates the 18 varieties of crops he currently grows. Gourmet seeds, some of them hybrids, such as lemon basil, cinnamon kale, wasabi, green radish, mustard, micro kale, edible flowers and cinnamon basil, are flown in from the United Kingdom and the United States every three months — from 50 to 300 kilograms at a time. The farm plans on introducing as many as 26 varieties, including sunflowers.

The seeds are placed on a type of mat made of recycled carpet that is food-certified. LED lights flood the room in a pink atmosphere, with each UV light containing a certain spectrum that is beneficial for the plants.
In the tank room, feed and water is scheduled through a computer based on the crop, with a unique nutrient recipe for each type, including potassium, calcium, magnesium and ammonium. UV and concentrated oxygen are also able to kill any potential bacteria or pathogens in the recycled water. Once the seeds sprout, they are moved to the five stacks in the vertical farm. Four dehumidifiers regulate the humidity in the air, providing each on average with 70 litres of water a day. The eco-system created by Badia Farms uses 90 per cent less water than open field farming and recycles its water up to nine times.

“We’re using hydroponics,” Al- Jundi said. “The biggest advantage is that we do not spray pesticides, which are messing up our health. In fact, we extensively use stickers to attract insects away from the crops.” Different levels of lighting are provided for each stage of the plants, before they are sent out as they were grown. “They’re intense in flavor and it’s the freshest you can get that way,” he said. “My personal favourite is chocolate mint.” With 60 clients so far, serving hotels, restaurants and cafes, the model is a first for the region, which made it challenging to set up. “All the ones abroad are designed for different climatic conditions so none of them are applicable here, where there is extreme humidity and high temperatures,” he said. “And to convince a chef to give you his time, when you don’t have the track record, was a big challenge. I wasn’t a known farmer yet.”

The system’s structure was manufactured in Riyadh, with a plan to set up the next facility by 2020 in Jeddah. Until then, the plan is to cater to Saudi as well as the UAE. “Dubai is a good testing ground and Saudi’s vision now is to support our type of sustainable growing and ecological farms, so it’s perfectly in line with what we want to do,” Al-Jundi said. “The government is now delegated to move into sustainable growing and find viable solutions to address self-sufficiency, so it’s not a slogan anymore: it’s the real deal.”

He hopes to develop similar projects across the Kingdom in the future. “My aim is to make sure we truly become self-sufficient,” he said. “Vertical farming is one solution but it’s not the full one — the ideal solution lies in all models of modern farming. What’s close to my heart is giving people healthy food while preserving our resources, and I believe the new generations of Saudis are ambitious and want to evolve our country. We were just waiting for the opportunity and it has finally come.”


Source: Arab News

Saudi Arabia expands partnership with Brazilian meat operator

RIYADH: A Saudi agriculture investment firm is to expand into Australia through a partnership deal with a Brazilian livestock company.

The Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co. (SALIC), a joint stock company owned by the Public Investment Fund, has entered into an agreement with Brazil’s Minerva Foods to acquire assets in Australia and set up a joint venture for the processing and export of beef and lamb produce.

“The company believes that Australia uniquely complements our operations in South America, maximizing sales opportunities and operating synergies, reducing risks and contributing to our strategy of consolidation in the animal protein export market,” Minerva Foods said in a statement.

In a second agreement, Minerva will supply its products to SALIC for distribution in the Middle East and Asia.

In a statement, Minerva said the tie-up would strengthen its exposure in those regions, adding that the Middle East and Asia accounted for around 55 percent of its beef exports in the first nine months of last year. SALIC may purchase as much as 25,000 tons of Minerva’s products a year, the meat packer said.

In September, SALIC announced it was increasing its stake in Minerva from 25.5 percent to 33.83 percent. In a statement at the time, SALIC said: “Minerva Foods is one of the largest meat production companies in South America and the second-largest exporter in Brazil as it produces more than 1 million tons of meat annually.

“Minerva Foods mainly serves the demands of foreign markets and during this year, it has already exported 750,000 tons of red meat to more than 100 countries around the globe.”

Minerva was founded in 1992 and operates 25 slaughterhouses and three processing plants in South America, with revenues amounting to 19 billion Brazilian reals ($3.54 billion) during the 12 months ending June 30, 2020.

SALIC first bought into the Minerva business in 2015 when it acquitted a 19.95 percent stake. Established in 2012, SALIC has been operating in the agricultural and livestock investment sector and its strategic goal is to secure imports for essential food commodities, as part of the Kingdom’s food security strategy.

According to SALIC, Saudi Arabia annually consumes 550,000 tons of red meat, of which 70 percent is imported.


SALIC, Minerva sign MoU for joint venture in Australia for processing, export of red meat

RIYADH — Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC), which is owned by the Public Investment Fund, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Brazilian Company Minerva Foods to establish a joint venture in Australia for processing and export of red meat.

The MoU is within the framework of SALIC’s role and contribution to the food security system in the Kingdom by creating a series of sustainable agricultural investments in multiple geographic regions.

The move comes as part of SALIC’s strategy to focus on two basic commodities which are grains and red meat in Australia, the company said. SALIC also pointed out that its fully owned subsidiary Australian Meridian Farms complements Minerva Foods’ intention to expand its investments also by increasing its sales opportunities and reducing risks to its operations in the field of red meat.

Australia is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of the volume of livestock and the largest exporter of processed meat to the Middle East and Saudi Arabia.

“Minerva Foods” is considered to be one of the largest companies for producing meat in South America and the second-largest exporter in Brazil, as it produces more than a million tons of livestock to more than 100 countries around the world.

Last September, SALIC announced an increase in its shares in Minerva Foods to 34 percent, as red meat presents one of the most important basic food commodities targeted by SALIC, as the Kingdom’s import of red meat amounts to about 400,000 tons annually.


Boost For Animal Feed From Wastewater Tech

A novel process for producing high protein animal feed from wastewater treatment is set for roll out across Thailand after a new cooperation deal was signed between technology pioneers iCell Sustainable and Thailand’s Charoen Popkhand Group.

Novel tech creating value from wastewater

Singapore-based iCell Sustainable Nutrition has developed what it claims is a unique patented technology that enables single cell protein production from organic materials derived from wastewater treatment.

Focused on nutrient-rich waste streams from industrial applications like brewing and food manufacturing, the technology supports new revenue streams that create value from water.

Producing new protein products with good nutritional value for animal and aquaculture feeds, the iCell biological process dramatically reduces waste.

A combination of biological growth, cell wall extraction, enzymatic fractionating and protein concentration techniques, the resulting Single Cell Protein (SCP) product is a cost-effective but high-value ingredient for animal feed.

Hi-TechPro is a version of the product for piglet feed while its X30 formula is designed for shrimp, for example.

Now, iCell has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Thailand’s Chia Tai Henning Modern Agricultural Technology (CP Henning), a Charoen Pokphand Group subsidiary.

Under the terms of the long-term cooperation the parties plan to jointly work on using by-products derived from CP Group’s agricultural and animal husbandry food enterprises.

CP Group aims to achieve high value-added utilization of the nutrients and by-products in process water discharged from the company’s slaughtering and food subsidiaries as well as its joint venture companies in China.

Indeed, China is a key focus for the roll-out of the technology although additional facilities are planned in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

“CP Group aims to achieve high value-added utilization of the nutrients and by-products in process water discharged from the company’s slaughtering and food subsidiaries as well as its joint venture companies in China.”

“By using iCell’s industrial and international leading biotechnology, our plants will achieve successful production of the single-cell protein (SCP), a feed ingredient to be used in our own feed mills, through resourceful utilization of organic process wastewater discharged from our food plants with clean and purified water effluent recycled back to the workshops for rinsing and washing, which will… eliminate pollution, reduce our carbon footprint and the operating cost, realize a profound dual-circulation of nutrients and water,” said Li Sumei, COO of CP Henning.

“With CP, a leading conglomerate in animal nutrition industry, we look forward to the cooperation with them to achieve resourceful utilization of waste nutrients from CP plants and meanwhile create a novel and sustainable source of SCP proteins for CP feed mills,” added Mark Rottmann, CEO of iCell.

Enhancing value from wastewater

The deal with CP Henning follows on from a similar deal in the US where iCell is looking to develop a new facility in the northeast to support eel aquaculture.

Hong Kong-based iCell subsidiary announced late last year that on-site pilot work is to begin for a 1,000 tonne eel aquaculture project. The measures will support the water treatment needs of multiple seafood processors while providing additional capacity that will allow the processors to increase throughput. Currently these ambitions are constrained by water treatment costs and related effluent regulations.

iCell selected Georgia’s Woodruff and Howe Engineering (WHEE) to design and develop projects using its patented process technology. The agreement between the two firms will see WHEE manage site evaluation and engineering design for iCell systems across the USA.

“When we learned of the iCell solution, we considered it a potential new tool for the food processing industry – it takes water and nutrient recycling to a new level,” said Steven Woodruff, CEO of WHEE, in a statement.

“Together we have already identified various sites where this new solution could benefit our food processing customer base, and will benefit the environment as well. This technology also has the potential to enhance food processors’ goals for environmental sustainability, water recycling, and nutrient recovery and beneficial reuse. We have built a mobile pilot system and have successfully ran the iCell process on food processing waste-water streams,” added Woodruff.

Although the city and state for the eel project have not be identified to date, iCell says it is working on food process water treatment issues at various sites in the USA. iCell also currently operates three large-scale commercial facilities across Asia.

“WHEE is the perfect selection for this work, this will accelerate our speed to completion as they have a laser like customer focus and understand the value of the iCell solution in the market place,” observed iCell’s Rottmann.

“This technology has the potential to enhance food processors’ goals for environmental sustainability, water recycling, and nutrient recovery and beneficial reuse.”

Financing wastewater tech

Rolling out its technology has also seen iCell look to the markets for capital finance. Last year the company retained Lighthouse Finance, a global seafood and aquaculture advisory company, for the purpose of exploring capital solutions in relation to its business development goals.

iCell is targeting approximately US$50 million in new financing that will be used for working capital and investment for joint ventures and water treatment facilities beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

The organisation expects to have its first integrated US aquaculture project announced shortly. This project will see a unique water recycling, protein production and aquaculture facility all occupy the same site.

Future food processing plants, for example those developed by CP Holdings, are also expected to take into account the requirements of iCell technology to allow effective treatment of complex wastewater streams containing compound mixtures as part of the design and construction process.

It is clear that using novel biological treatment systems has the potential to enable resource recycling. This not only reduces the cost of sewage treatment but also reduces pollution, the carbon footprint and lowers operating costs throughout the animal husbandry and aquaculture sectors.


UK firm set to harvest major vertical farming deals in the Middle East

London-based controlled-environment agriculture firm Vertical Future is set to announce major deals in the next month, which will make the Middle East its largest market.

The company currently grows produce for over 100 London-based restaurants and thousands of UK homes.

Vertical Future will deploy its proprietary vertical farming system across the region “within the next two months”, the company’s founder and CEO Jamie Burrows, told Arabian Business.

Vertical Future is in “ongoing and advanced stage” discussions with regional parties, he confirmed.

The global vertical farming market is estimated to be valued at around $80 billion and growing at a CAGR of around 25 percent – with value derived across technology, infrastructure, software, and operations, according to proprietary Vertical Future data.

Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It often incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimize plant growth, and soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics.

To accelerate regional plans, Vertical Future has chosen to partner with GreenBridge, a Lebanon and Egypt-based agriculture company that has been active in the region for three decades.

The partnership will see Vertical Future bring agriculture technologies, market networks, plant science expertise and marketing knowledge to the region. GreenBridge will offer on-the-ground operations support and local expertise.

“In order for us to expand into a complex regional market like the Middle East, it’s important to have a viable local partner,” said Burrows.

The Vertical Future CEO confirmed that the company is waiting on “several contracts” – some of which are at request for proposal (RFP) stage.

“Overall, Asia is one of the highest growth markets for vertical farming,” said Burrows.

“The Middle East has a big issue with food security. There is governmental strategic interest about reducing reliance on imports,” Burrows said, adding that the region would become the company’s biggest market following the signing of imminent deals.

The contracts will cover plants varying in size from 3,000 sq m to 150,000 sq m, Burrows said.

“We believe that climate change is going to get worse and impact Middle Eastern countries. It will also impact countries that import food to the Middle East,” the CEO said, adding that Vertical Future was looking to provide “high quality, sustainable food at better prices.”

Smart farming

Vertical Future’s approach to engineering and plant science has resulted in a system that allows growers to deliver nutrients through futuristic hydroponics, he said. The company claims to be able to cultivate approximately 172 per cent more produce per sq m than its competitors, while reducing energy usage by up to 60 percent.

In a region that imports most of its food, Gulf policymakers are gearing up to increase domestic production through smart farming as coronavirus continues to disrupt international supply lines.

According to a UAE representative for the UK department of investment and trade (DIT), the pandemic has “hastened” the country’s focus on agritech.

“Since the pandemic, we have been fine-tuning our food strategy as we go along, including buying up [foreign] arable land and improving domestic production,” said Adil Khan.

In a global first, the UAE government appointed a food security minister in 2017. Mariam Al-Mheri’s goal is to increase domestic food production by 30 percent by 2021 and give the local processing industry, which produces six million tones of food annually, the ability to triple output if needed.

The Gulf region, hamstrung by its unfavorable climate, scarce water, and limited arable land, imports around 85 percent of total food consumed, according to Alpen Capital’s GCC Food Report 2019.


Vertical Farming’s Success Depends on the Cheapest Lightbulb

Abu Dhabi’s giant Yas Mall isn’t the most obvious location for embracing nature. The sprawling complex, which houses a 20-screen cinema, leads to a Ferrari-themed amusement park.

At its heart is the Carrefour SA hypermarket. There’s no natural light or soil, yet floor-to-ceiling shelves offer shoppers herbs and microgreens grown right in the store. The fresh produce is a rare sight in the United Arab Emirates, which is almost all desert and imports 80% of its food. It’s marketed as a healthy way for customers to reduce the carbon emissions that would be generated transporting their groceries.

More than a decade ago, microbiologist Dickson Despommier floated the idea that nations with little arable land like the UAE could become self-reliant by growing food in skyscrapers with perfectly optimized artificial light and heat. He called it vertical farming and argued that it could reduce world hunger and restore forests depleted by commercialized agriculture. It would also eliminate planet-warming emissions caused by plowing fields, weeding and harvesting, as well as transportation.

In the years since, millions of dollars have poured into companies trying to make Despommier’s idea a reality. Agriculture and forestry account for about a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases, while the hunt for new farming land to feed a growing global population has exacerbated deforestation. The prospect of solving both problems has enticed all sorts of investors, from tech entrepreneurs to restaurateurs and industry giants like Walmart Inc.

A record $754 million of venture capital was invested in the industry in the first three quarters of 2020, according to PitchBook data, a 34% increase from the whole of 2019. It’s drawn particular interest in Singapore and the UAE, whose governments have set goals to increase their national food production.

But vertical farming will have to get a lot cheaper to deliver on its lofty aspirations. While it frees up arable land and uses 95% less water, creating the ideal conditions for growing plants ends up consuming much more energy than traditional methods. Lights need to run for 12 to 16 hours a day and heating must be used in the winter. Miguel Povedano, chief operating officer at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, which runs the Carrefour franchise across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, says vertical farms cost 20% to 30% more than traditional ones.

Investors may not be able to live up to the hype they’ve created around the industry, and see their bubble burst before they have a chance to prove themselves, says Michael Dent, an analyst at IDTechEx. “If people are expecting world changing progress and they don’t see it in the first two or three years — and what they see is high quality salad — there’s a chance they might pull out their investment on the field and move on to the next thing.”

His analysis shows that most vertical farmers focus on herbs and salad greens because of their rapid and simple crop cycles. Microgreens in particular are popular with consumers concerned with healthy eating, rather than in deprived areas. They’re also more likely to grow herbs like cannabis than higher-calorific squashes or melons, which need more energy and water.

Rather than feeding the world’s poor with high-calorific foods, the microgreens and herbs grown by indoor farms are only going to be an option for the world’s wealthy elite for many years to come. Vertically farmed produce is far more expensive than conventionally farmed goods and even most organic produce, Dent found. For example, New York-based Bowery Farming’s indoor-produced kale mix is almost three times more expensive per pound than Whole Foods Market’s baby kale option, and its cilantro is more than five times more expensive than its Whole Food’s equivalent.

Emerald Technology Ventures investor Gina Domanig says she’s more interested in backing technologies that can reduce energy costs than the farms themselves. She compares indoor farming to desalination technology — the process of removing salt from seawater to provide fresh drinking water to people in water-stressed countries such as Israel.

“When desalination came out, everybody said it’s the holy grail for freshwater,” she says. “But desalination is really energy intensive.” Vertical farming “might be an interesting thing” if there are technologies to make it less energy intensive, she says, but right now “it’s not economic or environmentally sound in all areas.”

One option to cut costs is solar power, which has become the cheapest source of electricity in many parts of the world. In Germany, Farmers Cut has developed a combination of solar power plants and batteries so it pays less for power than it would connecting to the country’s grid, says Chief Executive Officer Henner Schwartz. The cost of storing energy can be as low as 10 or 11 euro cents per kilowatt in Germany.

“The energy issue is the key thing you need to crack,” he says. “We’re not claiming we can do carrots or watermelons any time soon at competitive prices, because it’s just not possible.”

In Abu Dhabi, Carrefour is trying to find a lightbulb supplier who can reduce its power use by as much as 65%, according to Povedano. “The kilowatts consumed in electricity is the major handicap,” he says. “It’s not only what you, as a company, want to do. It’s how you get the customer to substitute imported products for this technology, and the key is that it needs to be really affordable in terms of price.”


Saudi Arabia Moves Closer to Adopting Vertical Farming

Saudi Arabia earmarked $26.6 million for vertical farming projects in the Kingdom, in a step taken to preserve water and develop agriculture in the Kingdom. The move also focuses on boosting Saudi food security.

Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al Fadley chaired an international virtual workshop centered on the future of vertical farming in the Kingdom.

The workshop is part of the ministry’s efforts to localize and adopt modern agriculture technologies.

King Faisal University (KFU) rector Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali and a group of leading local and international vertical farming experts took part in the workshop.

Fadley, in a speech he gave at the workshop, said that the world is witnessing accelerated advancements in technologies involving Hydroponics, Aeroponics and Aquaponics.

The minister, however, noted that there are challenges facing agricultural development.

These obstacles, according to Fadley, are related to the level of technology used in buildings, facilities, nutrient solutions, lighting, and the types of crops produced.

He stressed that those challenges need urgent and effective solutions.

Fadley explained that his ministry has worked hard to approve its agricultural strategy, and that it is cooperating with local and international partners from scientific institutions and the private sector to localize and adopt promising modern technologies.

He said that those technologies are one of the most important possible means to support food security, not only in the Kingdom, but also on a global level.

“Vertical farming techniques are one of the main axes of developing agriculture and water conservation,” Fadley told the workshop attendees, adding that the Kingdom has allocated 100 million riyals ($26.6 million) for this purpose.

He emphasized that procedures for obtaining vertical farming licenses were “organized and facilitated.”

It is noteworthy that the global market share of vertical farming was estimated at $3.1 billion in 2018.


Saudi ministry keen to enhance agricultural efficiency through AI, drones’ technologies

RIYADH — The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture is keen on raising the productive and operational efficiency of the agricultural sector by using drones backed by artificial intelligence technologies.

In this regard, the ministry organized on Wednesday a virtual workshop titled “Drones and artificial intelligence technologies in agriculture,” which was attended by several officials of major international companies in the agricultural and digital sectors.

The workshop was held with the participation of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Agricultural Development Fund, the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence, the National Authority for Cybersecurity, as well as international technology companies in the field of drones and artificial intelligence.

The event was held in the presence of Deputy Minister of Agriculture Eng. Ahmed Al-Ayada and a number of specialists and experts.

Addressing the session, Dr. Bandar Al-Saqhan, director general of the general department for agricultural research and guidance, said that digital development and artificial intelligence have necessitated all countries of the world to adopt a new system of work and a new approach to challenges that were not familiar to the agricultural sector.

“This is because of the ability of these modern technologies in developing and raising the productive efficiency, with more quality, less cost and economic feasibility,” Dr. Al-Saqhan said.

He explained that Saudi Arabia has exerted great efforts to keep pace with this development by adopting artificial intelligence technologies and making use of them in the best possible ways to support food security.

“The use of drones will be one of the main pillars of investment in the agricultural sector, in light of the geographical and climatic challenges and the lack of sufficient and trained agricultural labor and the failure of the human mind to match the amount of data and information flowing significantly in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Al-Saqhan noted that the use of drones would increase the capabilities of farmers, engineers and agricultural specialists throughout the world by providing them with the information they need to identify potential problems and mitigate losses.

The two-day workshop discussed four main areas: plant health, farm production, farm irrigation and agricultural management, as well as reviewed the experiences of a number of leading companies in this field.

Al-Saqhan said that the use of drones will be one of the main pillars of investment in the agricultural sector, in light of the geographical and climatic challenges and the lack of sufficient and trained agricultural labor and the human mind’s inability to keep pace with the amount of data and information flowing significantly in the agricultural sector.

He explained that the use of drones would increase the potential of farmers, engineers and agricultural specialists throughout the world by providing them with the information they need to identify potential problems and mitigate losses.

The two-day workshop comes within the communication links between the providers of smart technical services and between farmers and those interested in the fields of agriculture.

It is noteworthy that the revenues of the drones industry during the last five years amounted to $100 billion, and with expectations of steady growth that may reach more than 30 percent annually in light of the growing use of these aircraft in many areas.

The use of drones will allow farmers to work more to withstand the harsh weather and terrain and to monitor and identify plants and chart their efficient growth while controlling the diseases and insects from spreading and affecting the crops.

There are already large drones in use that can spray crops collectively, where they can spray when needed, in addition to monitoring animals.

DJI’s Agriculture Drone: AGRAS T20 for Agriculture Spraying

DJI’s agriculture drone for crop spraying, the DJI AGRAS T20, makes agricultural spraying easier, smarter, and safer.

Crop spraying by drone, while not widely legal in the U.S., has been adopted elsewhere around the world.  As agricultural drones get easier to fly and ever more automated, crop spraying by drone offers agronomists a better, more efficient, and less expensive option.  Today, DJI announced the DJI AGRAS T20: a high performance and intelligent precision agriculture spraying drone.

The DJI AGRAS T20 is modular, portable, and ready for any environment: “from its easy autonomous flight planning and terrain-sensing radar, to its extended flight time, high payload capacity, and off-the-grid power options,” says the DJI release.

Portable, Easy To Operate

The DJI AGRAS T20 folds and unfolds in seconds: the spray tank and battery are both swappable, reducing downtime. “Thanks to a new programmable DJI AGRAS Smart Controller 2.0 and the DJI AGRAS app, the user interface runs smoothly and is incredibly intuitive,” says the press release. “In addition, the smart controller comes with an ultra-bright 5.5-inch display, which remains readable even under direct sunlight. It also supports external battery packs and can last twice as long as other remote controllers, perfect for lengthy or heavy workloads.”

Drone Solutions for Agriculture

Last year, DJI announced the P4 Multispectral, integrated multispectral imaging to allow agronomists to scan fields and gather data about crop health.  This type of precision agriculture has been widely accepted as a significant benefit to increasing yields and decreasing water and chemical resource use, critical in countries faced with food insecurity or agricultural challenges.  Multispectral imaging combined with crop spraying on drones make a compelling solution.

DJI’s agriculture drone solutions stand out because they offer some of the benefits of their mass market solutions: they are easy to use effectively.  “Navigating through challenging terrains is now an issue of the past, thanks to the 3D Flight Route Planning solution. By using the Phantom 4 RTK, operators can scan and map target areas, making it easier to identify all aspects of the field. In Orchard mode 3.0, 3D flight routes can be generated based on the shapes of each tree after they are identified. Afterwards, users can conduct efficient spraying with their DJI AGRAS T20,” says the press release.


XAG launches its Polar V40 bi-copter agriculture drone in China

Agriculture drone and robot manufacturer XAG has announced its latest drone, the V40 2021, with a brand-new modular design. The drone replaces the usual quadcopter design with two rotors that keep the drone stable and force the payload to be applied to the fields below.

The new drone from XAG goes by the name Polar V40 2021, suggesting it’s next year’s model. Along with the V40, the company also released its more standard Polar P40 and Polar P80 spraying drones.

The selling point

The big selling point for this drone is the fact that there is only two rotors. XAG says this allows the drone to be more efficient and fly tighter lines, thanks to its smaller size.

The arms of the V40 are carbon fiber, along with the body of the drone being molded in one large piece. Thanks to the new design, pesticides and insecticides sprayed from the drone can penetrate the plants more than two times more effectively.

The drone is fully modular, allowing for parts to easily be swapped out if broken or upgraded when a new payload or an improved part becomes available. It breaks down into 18 parts, with literally everything on the drone being replaceable without much effort at all. It’s a design that would be awesome to see trickle down into consumer drones.

The V40 2021 arms are foldable, allowing you to save space while transporting — 33%, in fact. XAG has gone ahead and given the drone an extra layer of protection with an IP67 rating, which means the drone can drop into water up to 1.5 meters deep for up to 30 minutes and still be good to fly. This ensures any splashes the drone receives will not result in it falling to the ground.

Powerful and safe

The brains of the drone are the SuperX4. A flight controller backed up by AI to ensure the drone is flying as efficiently as possible while getting the job done. The drone is equipped with an RTK module for improved precision and can also be equipped with a 5G module, allowing the drone to always be connected.

To keep the drone even safer in the air, it is fitted with three top, forward, and ground-facing radar. This allows the drone to know what’s above, in front, and below it, ensuring it can dynamically adjust its flight path in the air. It is also equipped with an FPV camera for the operator on the ground.

The drone can be flown in various modes, including standard, free, fixed-point, and manual. In standard, the drone follows a back-and-forth pattern, going through a field one row at a time. Free mode allows the drone to follow odd-shaped rows of plants or crops to get the best coverage. In fixed-point mode, the user selects the points, and the drone follows. Manual mode allows a pilot to fly the drone with a controller.

The Polar V40 has a high-capacity lithium battery with an intelligent power management system proving the perfect amount of power at the right time. The battery also features fast charging technology that allows it to be charged from 30% to 95% in just 11 minutes.



Riyadh Exhibitions Company Ltd. (REC)
launched in 1980 in Riyadh, the prominent Arab hub in the region. We have been a pioneer in the events field in Saudi Arabia and the region by offering a broad range of event organizing services for trade shows, conventions, conferences and seminars. Since our formation, REC has planned and executed more than 440 events spanning vital commercial and economic sectors in the country.


Riyadh Exhibitions Company Ltd
6709 Al Ulaya – Al Muruj Dist.
Unit No. 19, Riyadh 12281 – 2576

Tel: +966 920024020
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