Chile venture capital investors eye flying fruit pickers

Chile venture capital investors eye flying fruit pickers

Chilean venture capital investors are among those interested in pumping funds into a fledging Israeli agritech company, BNamericas was told.

Tevel Aerobotics has developed a drone-as-a-service business model.

The company says its drone fleets can address logistical problems often faced by fruit farmers by automating the harvesting process.

Tevel – which also cites associated cost reductions – is preparing to pilot drone fleets next year at apple orchards in Israel, the US and China, but the solution can be adapted for other produce, such as avocado pears.

Israeli venture capital investing platform OurCrowd is investing in the startup.

“There are some Chilean investors that are taking a very serious look at it,” Alan Weisleder, executive VP of OurCrowd, told BNamericas. “We have Chilean investors interested in avocado [picking]. It’s in the company’s [Tevel’s] roadmap.”

In terms of avocado production, Chile has around 36,200 planted hectares. 

In the 2019-20 growing season the country produced about 168,000t of main variety Hass, of which around 70% was exported, mainly to Europe, the US, China and Argentina, according to information from Chile’s association of Hass producers and exporters.

Weisleder said: “It turns out that farmers, today, are suffering because they cannot get enough working hands to be able to collect fruit. Sometimes more than 20% of the fruit is left on the trees because the farmers cannot find the hands to harvest it.”

Under Tevel’s business model, the company would not sell drones to farmers.

“But they provide a service. They have service bureaus that basically collect fruit. And they sign a service level agreement.”

The biggest player of its kind globally, Jerusalem-headquartered OurCrowd is an equity crowdfunding company that has committed more than US$1.5bn since 2013.

Picture Credit: Tevel Aerobotics/LinkedIn

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