Sharp Turns To Growing Strawberries For Cash Because It’s Not Making Much Off Electronics

What’s a struggling electronics giant to do when it can’t pull in enough cash from peddling said electronics? Head to pasture. Or to the strawberry fields, in the case of Sharp. It’s got a crazy (like a fox?) idea to cash in on the demand for Japanese strawberries in the Middle East by setting up a remote berry operation in Dubai.

It’s not a push for TVs or a fresh dedication to the microwave market that has Sharp stirring in its sinking ship, but this new strawberry plan that has Sharp’s hopes up, reports The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo (h/t BBC News for the link).

The idea is to have strawberries growing on a factory scale in the United Arab Emirates by fiscal 2015, using a remotely controlled set-up to tinker with technology like artificially controlled light, temperature and humidity from afar. Which means no real people working in the fields.

The company says lab tests are already underway on how to best grow the strawberries using seedlings from Japan within the Sharp Middle East Free Zone Establishment, its subsidiary in Dubai. There’s a big market for fresh fruit there, but it’s tricky to get the strawberries shipped there from Japan without spoiling.

This is all in the hopes that strawberries will prove to be a literal cash crop that can help Sharp regain its foothold in the business world.

“If we can generate results in cultivating strawberries, a plant that is difficult to grow, we can apply the technology to other farm products,” a senior Sharp official said.

What’s next — BlackBerry growing actual blackberries? Actually, that might not be a bad idea…

Sharp to grow strawberries in Middle East [The Asahi Shimbun]
UAE: Japanese tech giant grows strawberries in Dubai [BBC News]