TBY talks to David Proenza, CEO, Urban Vertical Farms (UVF) on the sector.

David Proenza

What is the status of investment in the agricultural sector in Panama?

Investment banks have stopped moving into agriculture due to the costs and complicated regulations. Funds have dried up from banks and the government's policies have changed; it thought that if it opened up imports this would reduce costs and introduce cheap products to Panama. The country used to be relatively cheap when it came to restaurants and supermarkets, but in the last few years this has changed as other products are brought in because production has dropped considerably in Panama.

Do you intend to seek financing from international investors?

There are many risks in traditional agriculture but due to science and technology, we eliminate 95% of all risks. I want UVF to be a Latin American initiative open to everybody who wants to participate. We can attract that investment and capital now because now everyone prefers to invest in technology. We produce food in an intelligent, efficient, and productive way, eliminating the vast majority of risk involved in agriculture. We use zero pesticides and chemicals so it is more nutritious. Investors are definitely more interested now.