Verti, vertical farming ‘made in Murcia’ that hopes to revolutionize lettuce cultivation in Africa

29/06/2023 –

MURCIA. Thanks to growing areas such as the Region of Murcia, Europe currently has more than enough good quality lettuce and other vegetables to cover the demand of its entire population. However, there are other environments where these crops do not enjoy the same quality due to environmental conditions, such as Africa and the Middle East. As a result, Verti was born in Murcia with the objective of providing a solution to this market opportunity.

For this purpose, the firm has developed a vertical farming technology where lettuce is grown hydroponically – with the roots directly in the water – while the photons are provided by artificial LED lights: “There are many vertical farming companies in Europe, but they all make a very expensive and complicated technology and farmers do not buy it. We want to make it simple and cheap,” explains the company’s co-founder and CEO in conversations with Murcia Plaza, Emmanuel Leconte.

The first level of development has now been reached, allowing Verti to start marketing its system on the first farms, although there is still a lot of work to be done to improve productivity. However, the company believes that it is ready to be taken to emerging areas and is preparing to reach its first commercial milestones abroad.

To this end, the company is preparing a financing round of 500,000 euros, which it expects to complete by the end of 2023. This money will cover both the costs of improving the technology and the cost of the first implementation in Africa, which is also planned for the end of the year.

With this goal in mind, they will promote their solution through social networks and at specialized trade fairs, where they will take advantage of networking to reach the African continent, which will be the first target in order to reach the lucrative Middle East market by 2024.

In any case, not only those areas with an unfavorable climate are suitable for this system, as Verti is also confident that its vertical farming model will gain presence closer to the region. However, in Spain there is a deeply rooted traditional cultivation model, and the economic viability of this type of technology has not yet been demonstrated, which is expected to be achieved in 3 or 4 years.

Vertical farming is mainly focused on harvesting lettuce, although it can also be used to grow aromatic herbs, microgreens, mini peppers or edible flowers, among others.

“We have historically been involved in lettuce production. We found that in these emerging markets, importing lettuce was very expensive and the product suffered, so there was a place for a company like Verti there. There was a value proposition,” says Leconte.

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