Port Augusta farm shows how to grow food in the desert


Sundrop Farms, a privately owned enterprise, uses existing technology to grow tomatoes in the desert.

Powered by solar panels, the company uses sunlight and seawater to heat and cool plants all year-round.

This has caught the attention of partners Coles supermarket, that gave out a 10-year contract to supply them with tomatoes early next year.

Together with this is an expansion fund from International private equity giant KKR, for $100 million.

Sundrop is ready to offer Coles a steady supply of fresh tomatoes that are fixed in price, and a promise of less drought seasons, unlike what you normal get if naturally grown.

Sundrop is expected to deliver the first tomatoes to Cole in the first half of 2016.

On an international scale, the application of this to areas like the Middle East is undeniable.

Because the Middle East is abundant with sunlight and seawater, it is the most likely a candidate to adapt to this innovative technology.

KKR could point out lots of opportunities to use Sundrop’s sustainable agricultural technology in all parts of the world including Spain, Portugal and North America.

While China is busy buying up quality farmland, Sun drop is creating a 20-hectare greenhouse north of Port Augusta that is turning desert into a productive farming operation.

Because it is far from the closest agricultural land, it is free from pest and diseases from nerby farms.

When production starts, Sundrop will produce 20% of Australia’s tomato market.

Private equity usually have a hard time in investing in agriculture since it posts a huge risk due to unpredictable forces of nature that can ruin a planned forecast.

This is the first time that Coles, owned by Wes farms, has signed in for a 10-year contract for Australian-grown produce.

Leigh Oliver, director at KKR Australia, says: “This is an agricultural investment without the traditional risks.”

Some 70% of the world’s fresh water and food supplies is to increase by 50% by 2050 due to population growth.

Sustaining this agriculturally is indefinite, but this sheds light to a whole new perspective in figuring out a solution.

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