A green giant in the offing
David & Goliath Farms model will become a very sought-after concept and promote agriculture in the region
IN THE fertile crescent of Ajman's landscape, David & Goliath Farms dares to dream beyond the horizon. Their creed? The impossible is merely uncharted territory, not the boundary of capability. With a staggering phase one — €5 million raised through carbon credit forward contracts, this is not just a farm — it’s a canvas where imagination cultivates the extraordinary, transforming the ethos of sustainability into a profitable odyssey.
This is how they did it.
Chairman David & Goliath Farms Dr Lal Bhatia PhD has been at the vanguard of innovative and sustainable projects for over 35 years. With his company; Hilshaw Group being at the helm of these projects across many different geographies, his journey has been recognised on global platforms. He has leveraged his extensive experience in economics, tactical acquisition and business strategy to drive his vision forward.
“Hilshaw’s assistance in raising capital for David & Goliath Farms is more than an agricultural enterprise — it is a beacon of progress, a testament to what's possible when vision meets opportunity,” Dr Bhatia, who is also Chairman of Hilshaw Group, told BTR.
"David & Goliath Farms stands as a symbol of this partnership's potential, sowing seeds of change that reach far beyond our fields, promising a future that is as lush and bountiful as the crops we cultivate," he said.
In the UAE, ambitions are not only understood but also shared and actively supported by the country’s leadership.
“This project is a tribute to the power of green innovation and a blueprint for the future, proving that the most sustainable way to grow is hand in hand with nature and with a community that believes in the same principles,” he said.
In reply to a question, he said the project will be operational by third quarter of 2024.
Excerpts from the interview:
Please share details about Hilshaw Group and its operations in the UAE.
It has been four years since Hilshaw Group made UAE its primary home and since our "Work from Dubai" project, where we created a unique real estate opportunity for the international workforce by inviting them to work remotely from Dubai owing to its rapid recovery from the pandemic. We have had our hands full consulting for various projects inclding Sustainable Green projects across Central Europe and Asia. The common thread and focus amongst these projects is their ability to secure early investments via future commitments of Carbon Credit sales.
Hilshaw Group has introduced various initiatives on climate change and environmental protection. Please elaborate.
Initiative is a big word, I feel; it is more of an innovative approach, which has been an all-around integration. We believe small changes add on to deliver big results. Our smart projects all begin with the implementation of elementary urban planning principles, followed by the integration of technology, renewable energy, smart logistics and IoT to help things communicate for added efficiency.
Please shed light on the David & Goliath Farms project in Ajman. How do you derive the idea, and what is the main objective of this project?
They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the David & Goliath Farm project delivers that very experience.
Sustainable, Carbon Neutral, Environmentally Responsible and many such terms have been reduced to just being buzzwords. The media, discussions, and, of course, events like COP28 (Series) have brought about attention to the subject of carbon monetisation. However, it still remains to be an elusive concept for many owing to limited public knowledgebase and the complexity of the model.
Eco-friendly or otherwise, economic viability and stand-alone buoyancy are the basics of any project or business. Agriculture and food production are two industries amongst many more that remain within the category of 'Need' while enticing 'Want' — if designed to be as such.
Our produce is not just any produce; they're a luxury statement, perfected in a symphony of sustainable innovation. However, the most valuable attribute of David & Goliath Farms is that it represents the core of Hilshaw Group's ability to design multi-income business models, sustainability design, carbon monetisation and early-stage liquidity events.
What was the impact of presenting a proof of concept when negotiating forward contracts for carbon credits?
The proof of concept was pivotal — it turned theory into tangible results. It showed potential investors the concrete benefits and real-world applicability of our carbon reduction strategies. This not only instilled confidence in our project but also highlighted the potential for returns on investment, which was crucial in securing the forward contracts.
David & Goliath Farms is considered the future of agriculture. Will it help the UAE achieve food security and promote agriculture in the region?
Even the most modest step in the right direction contributes to the great cause. Farming and food production are lucrative businesses as is. Still, when you add the production of exotic produce to it, the RoI trajectory takes a sharp upswing.
Carbon credits permit a company to emit a certain quantity of greenhouse gases, with one credit equaling the emission of one tonne of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases. Companies are allocated a specific number of these credits. If they reduce their emissions and have surplus credits, they can sell these to other companies in what is known as carbon markets.
So, with a multi-stream income potential, we are certain that the David & Goliath Farms model will become a very sought-after concept and 'Yes' will help promote agriculture in the region.
How will this farm project help protect the environment or play its role in controlling the damage of climate change?
At David & Goliath Farms, our vertical farming technology achieves more than 4,200 tonnes of CO2 avoidance per hectare annually through several key strategies, including, but not limited to:
> Advanced hydroponics and aeroponics: Reducing water and energy use
> Renewable energy use: Solar power and energy-efficient battery storage
> AI-Optimised LED Lighting: Tailoring light for energy-efficient plant growth
> Automated Climate Control: AI-driven systems for energy-efficient farming environments
> Supply chain Optimisation: Efficient logistics to minimise transportation emissions.
> Direct Air Capture (DAC): Sequestering CO2 to enhance plant growth.
All these methods contribute to significant carbon footprint reduction in our operations.
Did you raise money for the project? What is your plan to expand this concept in the UAE or other parts of the world?
Our carbon credit future contracts system is not just as an environmental commitment but a strategic financial instrument. By planned quantifying and reducing our carbon emissions, we generate futures for carbon credits, which we then sell in advance through forward contracts. This provides us with immediate capital to invent into our farm operations, sustainable practices and technological advancements, turning what was once an invisible liability into a tangible asset.
David & Goliath Farms has successfully secured a commitment of €50 million, out of which an initial tranche of €5 million has been disbursed. The remaining tranches are linked to specific project milestones during the course of the year, which we duly en route with.
What advantages do carbon credit forward contracts offer to your operation compared to traditional funding methods?
Traditional funding often overlooks the long-term value of sustainability. Carbon credit forward contracts, however, validate and capitalise on our green initiatives. By locking in a rate of €50 per tonne now, we secure a steady revenue stream, insulating us from market fluctuations. It's a financial foresight that not only funds our current operations but also guarantees economic sustainability for the next seven years.
You seem ambitious with carbon credit system. Please explain how it works and benefits the project stakeholders?
A financial commitment and disbursement at such an early project stage perhaps answers the above question. Stakeholders realise the model's value, so we are currently helping and consulting four organisations to develop a similar model specific to their industries.
Would you please explain David & Goliath Farms' business model?
At David & Goliath Farms, we are in the business of producing rare and exotic fruits while reducing production emissions to generate carbon credits. Besides the baseline sales of produce, the project monetizes the generated carbon credits. Our current pricing strategy is at €50 per tonne of carbon credit, designed to hedge against market fluctuations, with expectations of a price rise to between €70 and €90 by 2030 in regulated markets like the European Union.
The role of technology in today's agriculture is vital. What do you say about tech utilisation at David & Goliath Farms?
The role of technology is crucial, as I mentioned earlier, and it is with the integration of various sciences that we are able to achieve what we have.
The farm's approach to technology and sustainability goes beyond mere compliance with environmental standards. It sets new ones, creating a blueprint for the future where farms are not just food factories but havens of green technology.
David & Goliath Farms is leading the charge, showing the world that the true yield of a farm can be measured not just in the weight of its harvest but in the lightness of its ecological footprint.
The Path Forward: Expansion and Innovation
THE VISION for David & Goliath Farms extends well beyond the current fiscal horizon. The infusion of capital through carbon credits will catapult the farm into its next phase of growth. Expanding from 3 to 25 high-tech hydroponic greenhouses, the farm will diversify its exotic fruit offerings, reinforcing its market position as the epitome of luxury agriculture.
Investing in cutting-edge environmental control systems, the farm will continue to perfect the art of growing rare produce, enhancing their reputation as pioneers of agronomic excellence. The establishment of research and development (R&D) labs is a testament to their commitment to perpetual innovation, ensuring that David & Goliath Farms remains at the forefront of agricultural advancements.
By marrying financial foresight with environmental stewardship, David & Goliath Farms is charting a course that others will aspire to follow. They are not just growing fruits; they are nurturing the seeds of a greener future, proving that sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive but mutually beneficial.
In the theatre of global agriculture, David & Goliath Farms has not only seized the spotlight but redefined the stage upon which the future of farming will unfold. Their journey is not a mere trajectory of growth but a bold reimagining of what it means to be a farm in the 21st century. The farm’s story—inscribed in the roots of their rare fruits and echoed in the whisper of their lush greenhouses—is a saga of ambition, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.
With each carbon credit secured, they forge a new link between financial acumen and ecological responsibility, proving that the greenest pastures are indeed those cultivated with foresight and sustainability at their core. The farm's symphony of advanced technology harmonises with the rhythms of nature, setting a tempo for the agriculture industry that resonates with the urgency of our times.
Who is Dr Lal Bhatia PhD
Dr Lal Bhatia PhD stands as a beacon of innovation, a true maverick in the business world whose entrepreneurial spirit knows no bounds.
With over 35 years under his belt, Dr Bhatia has been the architect of groundbreaking ventures, steering a fund worth billions with the finesse of a seasoned conductor. He's not just built teams; he's forged dynasties, turned ideas into empires, and masterminded transformations that redefine markets.
When 2020 brought the world to its knees, halting industries in their tracks, Dr Bhatia didn't just push forward; he blazed a trail. Amidst a global standstill, he doubled down on his vision for sustainable smart cities powered by green financing and set a new gold standard with his strategies for carbon monetisation.
Dr Bhatia's blueprint for the future isn't just a plan; it's a legacy in the making, a testament to visionary genius that promises to outlive its creator and shape the world for generations to come.