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PixelBlue, the parent company of South African agritech start-up Homefarm, says it raised R1.7 million (about $104 000) in seed funding to enable consumers, communities and businesses to grow more of their fresh food produce on-site where it is consumed.
Its investors include CapaciTech, a start-up investment agency.
In a media release, Homefarm says its fully automated indoor farms and farming-as-a-service model means anybody, anywhere can grow their own food. Its systems are based on proprietary designs and technologies, and all its products are developed and manufactured in South Africa.
Homefarm chief executive Michael Currin says the seed funding will assist the start-up to scale its operations, improve its service offering and roll out its marketing and distribution channels. The company also sees opportunities to provide its farms to customers in South Africa looking for easy and reliable indoor farming systems to supply produce all-year round to their families, communities and customers.
“We are confident about the positive trend in the smart indoor farming tech space, and feel very positive about playing an active part in Homefarm’s journey,” adds CapaciTech chief executive Matthew Emanuel. “Michael and team have worked conscientiously to develop a portfolio of key technologies and products that will make a meaningful impact to a growing market.”
According to Currin, Homefarm aspires to reach international markets, and notes that there are many regions globally that do not enjoy an adequate agricultural economy making it difficult or expensive to deliver fresh produce.
These include island nations, regions with extreme climate or simply isolated, remote or rural destinations. He believes Homefarm’s “easily shippable and rapidly deployable systems” are a good option for small businesses in these regions, specifically, with international orders for the commercial product already being placed.
As an urban farming pioneer, Currin launched Homefarm along with his team in 2017. The business was formed to bring small-scale indoor farming to the mainstream consumer and commercial markets through the development and commercialisation of rapidly deployable, fully automated food farming systems.
When founding Homefarm, Currin believed there was an opportunity to offer easy-to-use and visually attractive indoor farming systems for home use to the consumer market. Initially addressing the needs of urban households in South Africa with the Homefarm appliance, the start-up has since expanded its reach and product range by offering indoor farming systems to businesses and consumers both in urban and peri-urban environments.
The business has also launched its Homefarm commercial system which caters mostly towards businesses wanting to grow their own fresh produce on site. This system can grow up to 15kgs worth of produce per month and is supported by Homefarm’s farming-as-a-service offering.
Today, Homefarm also has customers in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia.