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BEDC in talks with new vertical farm partner

Fresh start: the Government is in talks with a second vertical-farming company (File photograph)

The Government is in fresh negotiations with a second vertical-farming company in an effort to set up an industry on the island.

Last November The Royal Gazette revealed that plans to develop a vertical-farming industry were put on hold after the US company working in partnership with the Government reported heavy losses.

On Tuesday that company — Orlando-based Kalera Inc — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and its share price subsequently plummeted.

According to the Government’s website, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation is now in talks with a “new” company.

A statement on its Economic Recovery Plan update page says: “The BEDC work is ongoing to establish a local food co-operative that uses controlled environment agriculture technology to boost domestic food production, increase food security and lower food cost.

“The BEDC has met with and started its due diligence process with a new international partner who is interested in the project.”

The name of the potential partner was not revealed.

The Government began exploring the potential of vertical farming in 2020. Towards the end of that year, Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office at the time, said that plans for a single farm were being finalised.

There was no further progress until last September, when Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, announced that the Government was to expand the project from a single farm to a new industry made up of several farms. The scheme was also selected to be one of four key planks of the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan.

In the following month, David Burt, the Premier, claimed that a deal with a foreign partner to develop the industry had been signed and was due to go before Cabinet.

Just a few weeks later, Kalera announced that it was pulling the plug on all its overseas operations after recording a $20.7 million loss in the third quarter of the year.

The Royal Gazette e-mailed questions on the latest developments to the BEDC and the Government. No response was received by press time.

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Published April 06, 2023 at 7:48 am (Updated April 06, 2023 at 7:48 am)

BEDC in talks with new vertical farm partner

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