Startup Spotlight: Jordan-Based Smart Green Is On A Mission To Digitally Transform Conventional Farming Practices Across The MENA Region One of Smart Green's main offerings is Fertigo, a smart irrigation and fertigation system that aims to address water scarcity.
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The following is a profile on one of the six startups that have been chosen to be in the second edition of PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition- an annual program to support regional entrepreneurs or startups that are tackling a variety of climate-related challenges.
"I never expected to be involved in agriculture!" These are the words with which Mohammad Zeinati, founder and CEO of Jordan-based agritech startup Smart Green, begins his description of how he forayed from being an electrical engineer into the world of sustainable agriculture. "My first exposure to agriculture was when I volunteered as an adult at a lemon tree farm with the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature in Jordan," Zeinati recalls. "This moment was the first time I ever worked in the presence of trees and soil. That experience eventually led to me heading numerous projects in hydroponics and agritech turnkey mega projects. Through this experience, I first noticed that farm irrigation systems were the brain for digital transformation, and that they were anchoring the entire production. But what I observed was that all these systems were imported from international companies, and they were very expensive without water-saving features."
This observation is what sparked Zeinati's entrepreneurial instincts, which led him to launch Smart Green in 2020 in both Jordan as well as Canada. To fulfill its vision to digitally transform traditional agricultural practices, Smart Green makes use of Industry 4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), and machine learning. One of its main offerings is Fertigo, a smart irrigation and fertigation (the process of fertilizing and irrigating at the same time) system that aims to address water scarcity.
"Fertigo is the first smart irrigation and fertilization system to offer Arabic language services, allowing us to cater to a wider community of growers, and scale positive practices in Jordan and the wider Middle East region," Zeinati adds. "More than 70% of water consumption around the world goes towards agriculture. Smart Green therefore aims to reduce water consumption in agriculture to make more water available for people's consumption. At Smart Green, we hope to develop technology that addresses food security through water-saving technologies for the next generation."
Smart Green's Fertigo. Source: Smart Green
Besides Fertigo, Smart Green has two other major solutions in its portfolio: Rootrika, which is a root-sensing sensor, and Taqs Scope, a data-based weather application. "Our ultimate goal is to help farmers conserve resources and enable remote management," Zeinati adds. "Our intelligent systems help farmers to reach the optimum use of water and fertilizers by delivering precise amounts of water and nutrients to plants in a timely manner. By delivering precise amounts of water and fertilizers in a timely manner, Smart Green can help farmers save up to 30% of water consumption in open systems, and 70% in closed systems. This results in higher-quality crops, and also helps ensure food security for future generations, while protecting the environment. Smart Green thus uses advanced technology from the Industrial Revolution 4.0 to help farmers optimize their use of water, nutrients, and energy sources."
For Zeinati, scaling his startup into newer markets within the region -such as Saudi Arabia- is his next plan of action. And to achieve this, the founder believes being a part of this year's edition of PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition will be extremely beneficial. "One of the main challenges for startups in the region is a lack of capital and access to networks, but working with a multinational player like PepsiCo propels our growth," Zeinati explains. "The program will allow us unprecedented access to potential investors, industry experts, business communities, and partners, alongside a world of new opportunities. As a growing business, access to insights into research and development, business models, market activation, product development, and regulatory practices are invaluable, and allow us to stay ahead of the curve. And, of course, if we win the final prize of $100,000, it can transform our business!"
As for the road ahead, Zeinati reveals that he's already devised comprehensive long-term strategies for his business. "These strategies include carrying out pilot projects in different areas to foster trust among local communities," he says. "We will also conduct awareness sessions to emphasize the significance of technology in sustaining resources and improving food quality and quantity. Implementing upgrades to the current system through add-ons will enable users to invest more efficiently, and expand their experience in the field. Finally, we also wish to introduce new systems such as satellite monitoring, water harvesting, and other services for the agriculture sector, and provide a diverse range of agriculture applications that cater to the needs of various farms, including crops and irrigation networks."