Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company makes first UK move

SALIC has led a £7m funding round for UK-based agtech firm Hummingbird Technologies and will use the tech on its properties in Australia and Ukraine.

Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company has made its first investment in the UK agriculture sector after leading a £7 million ($8.9 million; €7.9 million) investment round for agtech firm Hummingbird Technologies.

Hummingbird was founded in 2016 and is an artificial intelligence business that uses imagery and data collected from satellites, drones, planes and robotic technologies to create high-resolution maps of farms that operators can use to make decisions.

It provides services including crop stress detection, disease detection, nutrient management mapping, weed grass mapping, and yield prediction and plant counting in row crops.

SALIC did not disclose how much it had contributed to the funding round.

The Saudi firm has employed Hummingbird to monitor 400,000 hectares of farmland that the investment firm owns in Australia and Ukraine, according to the Financial Times.

SALIC chief executive Matthew Jansen said in a statement: “We see Hummingbird as an attractive investment from our global portfolio’s point of view and see it as a means of driving and accelerating innovative best practice adoption across our global farmland production operation.”

SALIC made its first move into Australian agriculture with the purchase of an aggregation covering more than 200,000 hectares of land in Western Australia from the Nicoletti family earlier this year, in one of the largest single parcels of land sold Down Under.

The sale price was not disclosed but is understood to be as much as A$70 million ($48 million; €43 million).

A UK subsidiary of SALIC purchased Mriya Agricultural Holding Company of Ukraine in September 2018 for an undisclosed sum. The company cultivates wheat, rapeseed, barley, sunflower and other crops on 165,000 hectares of land spread across seven regions in the country’s west.

SALIC did not respond to a request for additional comment prior to publication.