An American food crop company known for producing vegetables using special technology, wants to go green in Barbados, but local investors are not biting.
Urban Barns Foods Inc. has hired “an agent” here and wants to establish growing facilities to produce items including lettuce, basil, watercress, mint, Swiss chard, cilantro and spinach, for local hotels and food retailers.
In addition to Barbados, the company signed a letter of intent earlier this year with an unnamed third party to also develop similar ventures in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.
The company’s President and Director of Strategic Marketing, Richard Groome, told Barbados TODAY, however, that “we have not found a suitable partner in Barbados as of yet that wishes to put up a local Urban Barns”.
“We are still in search of such a company or person. We have an agent working for us but until now it has been very quiet in Barbados. We would love to find a licensed partner in Barbados,” he said this evening.
“Ideally this would be anyone of a number of people or companies that have the following characteristics: In the food growing or import business currently, could be a greenhouse owner, in the financing of small and medium sized businesses, a retired wealthy business person who loves sustainable farming, or an independent entrepreneur.
Urban Barns uses what it calls “patent pending proprietary equipment” in a process called “cubic farming” to “produce affordable vegetables in a secure and controlled indoor environment”.
Company officials explained that “by setting up facilities and growing locally, Urban Barns can focus on supplying any community, irrespective of the regional climate, effectively reducing shipping times and related spoilage costs”.
Rather than using conventional flat growing surfaces like agricultural fields, the company’s technology uses the entire cubic space of a building.
Groome said his company was interested in establishing a licensing arrangement with a Barbados partner using Urban Barns special machines.
“A typical licensee will need to start with at least four to 10 machines and purchase an exclusive or non-exclusive license. A license will be five years with a renewal for a further five years,” he noted.
“We can do many types of lettuce, plus numerous types of fine herbs, 365 days per year,” he added.
After it finds a Barbados partner, Urban Barns management intend to first negotiate and sign the necessary memorandum of understanding, before raising funds for a growing facility, where the company would “supply technical services to assist the growing function to maintain quality control for an agreed upon fee”.
“It is anticipated that the MOU will culminate in a definitive and binding agreement for the implementation of the project, which will include documentation for the establishment and operation of a local entity, a licensing agreement between the local entity and the company and a technical service agreement between the local entity and the company for provision of technical services, training, support and know-how,” the organisation said. (SC)