Last in blog | Future Agro Challenge

APPLICATIONS 2017/18 OPEN

Applications are now open for a new cycle.

There’s an agricultural revolution underway. And our passion is pushing the envelope until innovative and fundable food, agtech, and agriculture innovations have spread around the globe, from farm to fork and beyond. Our outreach has already reached over 60 countries as we continue to expand.

We continue to seek for innovative ideas that provides solutions for the lives of approximately 40% of the world’s population thriving on agriculture.

Our main categories include but are not limited to:

  • Food tech – the intersection of food and technology
  • Ag tech – the juncture of agriculture and technology
  • Agriculture Production & Processing – processing agriculture products and intermediate products into valuable marketable products
  • Agroforestry & Husbandry – optimizing the total output per unit area of tree, crop, and livestock combinations
  • Food or Beverage Product or Retail – creating new or improving food or beverage products or retail concepts
  • Food Security & Sustainability – the process of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food while keeping the environment healthy and food production economically and socially viable.
  • Food Waste – food that is discarded or uneaten anywhere from the process of harvesting to consumer products
  • Nutrition & Health – the intake of food, considered in relation to the personal body’s dietary needs
  • Safety & Health – safety, health, and welfare of people in the food and agriculture workplace
  • Packaging & Logistics – the technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use
  • Agriculture Education – new and impactful forms to educate the youth in agriculture
  • Agriculture Tourism – a ‘return to nature’ unique experience through alternative tourism

Agripreneurs can apply here.

FAC Impact Makers Program Cohort 2 Celebrations

A celebration of learnings comes to an end with the second cohort of the FAC Impact Makers Program ending on May 17th.  A 12-week journey with a group of ecosystem-building organizations from both the MENA and Sub-Sahara Africa joined us with diverse challenges in the agrifood innovation scheme.

The journey brought forward experts from different themes that shared insights and case studies on how to build resilient ecosystems, connect marginal communities to market, create sustainable ventures, and tell impactful stories.

As part of the program we awarded the organizations that best supported an agrifood startup and the impact it made.  With such great case studies came the difficulty to choose resulting to three winners! Each with a unique approach and impact!

Jason Runo from Kenya received FIRST place.  Jason exemplified a true case study reflecting on his initial idea to create a beekeeping startup, which after his 12-week journey decided to restructure his business model as an impact maker to empower the beekeeping ecosystem. His reflections of all modalities discussed throughout the program and personal evaluations, allowed him to implement a new and impactful strategy focusing on bees and providing real life traction and success to a start at his current status.  Jason has already empowered honey startups to connect with chefs and markets, while his journey just begins!

Esteeri Kabonero from United Social Ventures in Uganda, landed SECOND place.  Esteeri offered a best practice model through a quantitative approach.  She showcased how their organisation turned a seedling business and packaged the ability to offer digital transformation as well as global scalability, with a pathway for future growth.

Farah Abi Mosleh from Farah Social Foundation in Lebanon, came in THIRD place.  Farah was able to truly narrate and inspire through their story of how they supported a village lady that took a traditional product “manoushe”, which became a startup that could now scale its demand.  Connecting culture, food, and market demand.  This story is an example of how an impact maker can inspire more individuals in the community to think bigger, hence creating more agrifood startups.

At the end, each Impact Maker still remains a winner as such a difficult profession must always be rewarded.

At FAC we continue to focus on impact through an inclusive model which celebrates the diversity of stakeholders to make a successful agrifood innovation ecosystem.  Each of our efforts combined can accelerate to be able to achieve a common vision we all share but know it is to big to handle alone: enhancing the agrifood supply chain to achieve SDG 2 Zero Hunger.  Please reach out if you want to join our next cohort!

 

FAC Impact Makers Program – Cohort 2!

FAC Impact Makers program is a capacity building program and network targeting Sub-Sahara Africa and MENA region to support the development of conducive ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship in the agriculture and food sector.  

In the MENA region the program is open to applicants from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Tunisia and Yemen. While in Sub-Sahara Africa, the program is open to applicants from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana. 

The objective of the program is to empower ecosystem developers (in particular incubators and accelerators that work with start-ups) and strengthen their capacity to advance their advisory services to high-potential, innovative, tech-savvy agricultural entrepreneurs in their regions. 

Each Impact Maker will come out of the programme with a course certificate that can be used as an endorsement of quality, as well as strategies and initiatives that are tailor made for the AgriFood ecosystems in their regions

The project is funded by SANAD Technical Assistance Facility, implemented by Industry Disruptors Game Changers, with the support of Berytech, AgriCatalyst Innovations, and FoodMakers Africa. 

For more information about the program or to register, click here

Application deadline: February 25th, 2022

 

Agriculture from Space: a 4th generation food production

Industry 4.0 comes with a whole technological revolution such as the package of Agriculture and Space. This concept stimulates a large number of innovative services and products for a continuous and more systematic monitoring of Agricultural activities.

Examples and effective solutions based on space technologies are already in place across the globe in the domain of Agriculture and Rural Development. The agriculture sector seems to be particularly suitable for the development of the new markets where larger industries, but also small and micro-enterprises use Earth Observation technologies that could address local and individual needs of farmers and cultivators with new, innovative and efficient user-targeted services. Their integration into existing systems could have an important role and could stimulate the creation of new and innovative applications, services and products for better agricultural production, rural development, and territorial management in general.

The below mentioned startups are examples of solutions to a diverse range of agricultural challenges, from affordable IoT connectivity to everyone on the planet, to a variety of sensors that collect data for crop’s health, to crop-specific plant nutrition solution and nanosatellite constellation. The showcased techniques are the latest applications in precision agricultural platforms to monitor crop growing cycles, livestock location, and soil or leaf analysis tools to optimize crop-specific plant nutrition.

  • Hiber (Netherlands) – is a satellite operator built for IoT applications. Its mission is to bring easy, affordable IoT connectivity to everyone on the planet. Imagine being able to monitor soil conditions, to track cattle and know-how crop storage is doing – worldwide, no matter the location. Hiber enables this through its own nanosatellite constellation.
  • EarthSense (USA) has developed an autonomous robot, TerraSentia, that contains a variety of sensors to collect data for plants’ health, physiology, and stress response. EarthSense uses machine vision and machine learning to seamlessly convert field data to specific, actionable information about plant-traits.
  • Soiltech Wireless (Taiwan) delivers real-time, actionable information to help agriculture professionals increase yields and crop quality whilst lowering costs and reducing inputs. The Soiltech sensor measures moisture, temperature, humidity, and bruising, which is wirelessly transmitted to users for analysis and decision making – during the growth, storage and transportation of crops.
  • Skudu (South Africa) has created a technology that converts laboratory analysis of either a soil or leaf sample into a detailed, crop-specific plant nutrition solution, more accurately and rapidly than humanly possible. The company is the very first to know the exact fertilizer requirement of the farmer. This knowledge provides tremendous advantages and cost-saving opportunities for any fertilizer supplier wishing to serve this need.
And many many more!

Having technology at its highest levels, the fact is that there are many means and ways to produce food for everyone. The issue is to find a path towards zero hunger along with sustainable food production and monitoring.

In our passionate community at Future Agro Challenge, we know that solutions can also come …from above! Monitoring the land from above and using artificial intelligence technologies in Africa to control the soil’s status are just few innovative ideas from our expanding community.

To this end, here at FAC, we have developed a suite of tools to assist communities from all around the globe to collaborate and work together to solve the food production and supply challenges of the future. We have a world network in over 60 countries and we want you to join our efforts to build local ecosystems to solve global food puzzle problems and utilise our global competition for local agripreneurs to reach global visibility.  

 

Join the revolution today!

Contact Us: https://facagro.com/

Empowering Women and Building Sustainable Food Systems

The Future Agro Challenge (FAC) anchors a dynamic community that takes root in each joining nation, enriching the global conversation with a transfer of ideas and solutions. Each nation and region brings a new perspective, fresh concepts, unique solutions borne of their own individual experiences in overcoming obstacles.

A transformation in the food system is needed to transform a 10,000 year old industry into a female inclusive sector. Real and sustainable solutions from farm to fork can only be achieved if gender inequality is minimized or eliminated. Carla Tanas, co-founder of Future Agro Challenge, highlights that “while technological solutions are advancing around the globe the gender gap isn’t closing only because its not a digital solution that can close the gap.  We first need to understand the local realities, learn about the diversities of crops and each respective value chain in order to shift in mindsets and actions.

Watch the full conversation with the Women’s Entrepreneurship Summit.

 

A Spotlight on Food Waste

One of the basic pillars that the new EU “From Farm to Fork” strategy has shed light on is obvious issue of food waste. We mention these two words because the future of our planet lies in …our garbage! In these uncertain times we live in, it is more than relevant to globally find ways in shaping a path towards sustainable food systems and zero hunger.

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), while 1 billion people on the planet are under nourished, one third of all the produced food is lost or wasted – around 1.3 billion tonnes of unexploited food. In simple mathematics, if one-quarter of the wasted food could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people.

But how easy is to face the issue of food waste? To address this global issue a good starting point would be to decompose it in four simple subcategories: supply chain, cultural mindset, traceability, and education. And here is where science, innovation, farmers, policymakers and the public, if all united, can contribute towards sustainable solutions.

Here, we point to innovative ideas that have attracted our attention from startups around the world who dare to fight the issue of food waste:

  • Greece | Centaur is the Internet-of-Crops platform that provides unique insights to maximize quality and fully prevent post harvest loss for sustainable supply chains.
  • Lebanon | Startchy is a Lebanese-American company that creates an all-natural, edible coating solution that can be applied to fruits and vegetables to extend shelf life by 2-3x.
  • UK  | Too Good To Go is an app for fighting food waste. They fight food waste by helping food stores sell their surplus food instead of throwing it away. Their mission is to reduce food waste worlwide, and their vision is to create a world where food produced is food consumed.
  • Israel | Blue Sphere develops waste-to-energy plants that generate biofuels from food and farm waste. These biofuels are then sold to local utility providers that utilize them to power steam turbines for electricity production.
  • India | CarbonLites has developed a bottled bio CNG (compressed natural gas). It is made by converting food and agri wastes into clean renewable energy that can displace LPG for commercial cooking in restaurants and hotels.
And the list goes on!

Unfortunately, even if technology is at its highest potential and there is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone, we still are a long way away from zero hunger. And in this global controversy, we ourselves can contribute as well, starting from our kitchens! The issue of food waste is part of a misperceived mindset that food is abundant and accessible to everyone.

We know that the global Future Agro Challenge community is passionate about the fact that in order to revolutionize the world’s path towards zero hunger, we must start with the food that comes in our hands and ends up in our waste. And we believe that ‘food’ in food waste has a priority.

There has never been a better time than this to think of the future of our food system as a dynamic formula with a green and sustainable outcome!

To this end, here at FAC, we have developed a suite of tools to assist communities from all around the globe to collaborate and work together to solve the food production and supply challenges of the future.  We have a world network in over 60 countries and we want you to join our efforts to build local ecosystems to solve the global food puzzle and utilise our global competition for local agripreneurs to reach global visibility.  

Join the revolution today!

Contact Us: hello@facagro.com

From the Farm to You

It is simple! PIELERS GmbH goal is to make a major contribution to the transformation of the agriculture and food industry by fundamentally changing food trade and thus securing the future of nutrition. Through software solutions and sustainable agriculture, the food industry should be enabled to be economically successful in the long term. This is achieved when the 8 self-set principles for decent food are realized.  PIELERS strives for an exponential increase in the realization of the 8  principles and the highest possible user satisfaction. Impact and profitability are equal goals of PIELERS, and are to be realized with the greatest possible leverage.

More species-appropriate animal husbandry, environmentally friendly production processes, and a reduction in food and packaging waste is what PIELERS stands for.   pielers.de  is the first product of PIELERS GmbH. The pielers.de application enables producers and gourmet artisans to offer their distinctive food products directly and digitally, independently of expensive retail stores or market stalls and without intermediaries. Private persons, enterprises  or public mechanisms find good food on-line and buy directly from the producer. In this way,  every purchase on pielers.de directly supports producers and gourmet artisans. Numerous  awards have now been won by PIELERS:  

  • Winner 2020 Future Agro Challenge Germany 
  • Digitalization Award We Do Digital 
  • DurchSTARTER Award 2019 
  • Ranked first in the “Consumer Apps & Services” category of the FoodTech 500 list,  worldwide 
  • Top 10 female founders in FoodTech, worldwide 
  • EIT Food Rising Food Star 2020 

1 See also: https://www.pielers.de/de/fuer-erzeuger/ethik

PIELERS GmbH is a tech startup empowering producers, farmers, communities, municipalities  to implement the EU’s Farm2Fork strategy through software and the use of data. They democratize food supply with their own cloud platform. PIELERS Cloud software applications enable peer2peer food commerce for all. Through their software, they help maintain distinctive food diversity, create fair producer prices, and show where food comes from. The cloud is the  heart of the company. It is the central data repository and backbone of PIELERS software applications, which can be used independently or combined by different users.  

PIELERS operates as an agile network organization in which each member acts equally,  autonomously, and self-responsibly. Each member is an expert in his/her field, and is responsible for achieving the goals in his/her field, while always focused on cooperation. Temporary teams are formed within the organization to work on projects and solve problems. Each team is formed by the initiator in a problem-oriented manner. Uncooperative behavior, micropolitics,  bad temper, and distrust are rejected and addressed directly. 

 

Soilless Farm Lab: Transforming Nigeria’s Food Security

Transforming Nigeria’s agri-foodtech ecosystem landscape has been an ambitious agenda considering the fact that the agri- and foodtech entrepreneurs in the past have had to face the challenge of lack of support, minimum mentoring opportunities and little or no investments compared to their fintech, edtech, healthtech and civictech counterparts. In 2016, 72% of respondents to a survey conducted by The GreenRise Hub reflected a part of these challenges. This discovery was one of the drives that further strengthened our resolve to take the lead in Nigeria’s agri- and foodtech ecosystem landscape, leading to our partnership with Future Agro Challenge. 

 

Source: The GreenRise Hub Nigeria (2017).

Since 2019, we have been working with local agri- and foodtech entrepreneurs providing them a platform to build sustainable businesses through the machinery of the Future Agro Challenge in Nigeria. This allows us to choose one entrepreneur as the Nigerian Agripreneur of the Year to represent our country. This year’s winner is one reason why we love working with entrepreneurs in this space.

Soilless Farm Lab is Nigeria’s agri- and foodtech startup transforming the way we grow food in the country by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to indoor, vertical, urban and hydroponic farming systems. The team at Soilless Farm Lab strongly believes that “food production should not be seasonal because hunger is not seasonal” and this is what drives the work that the startup is doing to ensure food security across Nigeria on a daily basis. Through the work of Soilless Farm Lab, there is a guarantee of fresh food produce all year round, with supplies of healthy and nutritious food to different parts of the country. 

As a business, its goal is to maximize production without harming the environment, while eliminating post-harvest loss. Soilless Farm Lab is also a technology enabler for agriculture, we develop tools, deploy them, and also train others. In the past year, the startup has continued to experience growth across all aspects. Some of these achievements include: 

 

These are a few reasons why we at Future Agro Challenge are proud of Soilless Farm Lab as the Agripreneur of the Year for 2020. With this kind of work the startup is doing in the space, there is hope for a future where food security is assured and people are able to access both healthy and nutritious food.

Small Farming and Agtech in Peru

How Do We Improve Small Agricultural Producers to Improve Their Production and Marketing Decisions?

Produced by: Alejandro Bernaola / Investa VB Founder 

 

In Peru, one of the most innovative projects in the agricultural sector has been carried out in recent years, this time it is not about irrigation works or expensive extension systems, but it is about solving the question: how do we improve small agricultural producers to improve their production and marketing decisions?

It is estimated that there are more than 2.13 million productive units called “small family farming”, many mired in poverty and extreme poverty, which face problems such as disorder in their production, low post-harvest quality, inadequate road infrastructure for market connection, presence of a high number of intermediaries, among others. All factors that permanently decrease their profitability and competitiveness.

In the face of this, together with all the regular activities carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, a year ago Peru decided to carry out an open innovation process, although formally they did not call it that, in practice that is what has been done. Companies and entrepreneurs have been called on to present and pilot solutions to provide information for the decision-making of small agricultural producers. A wide range of solutions ranging from improvement of productive aspects, sales price information, marketing opportunities, input costs and production factors, investment opportunities, agroclimatic information, pests and diseases, agricultural management among others, today are working hand in hand with producers and the government. 

The interesting thing about this exercise is that many of the factors affecting the small producer are also valid for large farms. While the latter are modern operations that control well variables such as seed genetics, efficient fertilization and phytosanitary control, it is impossible for them to control abiotic stress (environmental stresses such as drought, salinity, high lighting and extreme temperatures). With this, a modern producer may wonder what it was helpful to spend more money on a better seed, if in the end in the production cycle he faces drastic changes in temperature that makes that seed not reach its full productive potential. This fact is configured as an interesting growth market for the solutions that have been piloted today. 

Among the solutions that have been piloted today is: PACHATEC project of inQube LATAM which is an effort to create a digital backhron network without traffic lights for the agricultural value chain, PEDRO El Datero de ACM Ventures that provides daily weather information and prices of the market to more than 22 thousand users, Infoagro that provides information relevant to decision-making and Walkie Talkie AGROS that functions as a telephone exchange for advice and access to information by producers. These are just four of the more than ten solutions that have been implemented throughout Peru.

If Monsanto’s 2013 purchase of The Climate Corporation is said to have caused investors to start seeing agtech as a relevant investment destination, so much so that today it is one of the top investment destinations with nearly $5 trillion invested in startups in 2019, so do startups that offer digital solutions for small producers and the case of Wefarm operating in Kenya , Uganda and Tanzania with more than 2 million small producers and has already received investment from True Ventures, LocalGloble and Accelerated Digital Ventures. 

It would therefore not be strange if any of these solutions that are piloted throughout Peru today ended up representing us in one of the FAC global competitions in the coming years, which will allow it to bring its proposal closer to small agricultural producers in the world. 

 

 

Food Security In Lebanon and the MENA Region

In its mission to inspire and empower agrifood startups, Berytech brought together experts and entrepreneurs to discuss the pressing subject of Food Security, particularly Lebanon and the MENA region, to tackle the 4 pillars in food safety: availability, access, utilization, and stability. The aim is to inspire entrepreneurs and change-makers to address the challenges of building a vital safety net for MENA populations and turning these challenges into business opportunities. Here are the highlights of the discussions: 

 

When looking for solutions for any of the food security challenges, organizations, as well as, entrepreneurs need to keep one thing in mind: localization and understanding the profile of the client or beneficiary they are tailoring solutions for.

The MENA is the only region where food insecurity has increased while being the largest food importer in the world. Technology in the region is largely needed to improve the efficiency and resilience of agriculture systems, value chain traceability, access to market, access to information, etc.  

To maintain the food security level needed for Lebanon, we need to make the food and agriculture sectors as smart, as efficient and as productive as possible. The local economic crisis and regional food instability are a motive to shift from a traditional and conventional food culture to a smart agri-tech one. To intervene in improving stability, we must focus on improving stocks or reserves, food processing, and shelf-life, reducing food waste and loss, localizing the food supply chain, as well as making it shorter and closer to the consumer. Technology can play a huge role because availability is the name of the game. Having a tool that shows price levels at different shops where the items are available will allow to observe new trends.

One of the biggest bottlenecks to the development of the agriculture sector is in the antiquated methods of running businesses. The sector is predominantly lacking youth because it is not an attractive sector. The challenge exists in introducing new technology to old mindsets, in bringing forward new trends, that would influence business operations, therefore, enhance their productivity.

There is a need to identify the farmers working in Lebanon, to find a way to communicate with them. There is no data on that, on how much they produce, how much they consume, what are the resources that they need. The lack of data does not mean that we don’t know, it means that there is no verified national data that action can be based upon. Farmers are still skeptical about using technology, so entrepreneurs cannot exclusively rely on introducing technology in agriculture at this stage but look for different innovative means. They should look at not only decentralizing food supply chains, making them shorter and more efficient but at reducing food waste and losses. 

Creating a shift in access to food requires the creation of more affordable food sources and extending the shelf life of perishable foods to minimize waste. For that to become a reality, agriculture and food sectors need to become smarter by involving technology.

Producers don’t choose to produce unsafe products, but the cost of compliance is often a challenge for small-scale producers, and safe food that is monitored costs more. When safety is not compromised for the sake of the cost, it makes the safe product less accessible for poorer consumers.

Fidele el Achkar, Co-founder of FoodSight and the Lebanese Agripreneur of the Year, was hosted in one of the sessions. FoodSight has created an online platform that helps small and medium-sized food businesses overcome their food safety challenges by connecting them to freelance professionals to tackle their most pressing challenges in terms of food safety, quality, and export compliance, to allow food businesses to enhance the quality of their food products, improve business standards, and increase revenues.

The startup is currently enrolled in the Agrytech Accelerator, a program by Berytech, allowing them to build solutions to current problems. Foodsight believes that their solution will disrupt the way food safety is tackled in the region, create business opportunities, and have a strong social impact. 

The hard work of the two women founders paid off this summer by winning the Future Agro Challenge competition in Lebanon allowing them to represent Lebanon during the next Global Agripreneur Summit. 

 

Future Food and Farming

One of the impacts of COVID-19 is that food security has come under the spotlight around the world with more awareness than ever regarding the important role food and farming play in our lives. In uncertain times, we go back to basics and food is at the foundation base in Maslow’s hierarchy of our needs, it is essential for our survival.

By 2050, there will be two billion more of us on the planet. Scientists and futurists are predicting that within the next 30 years, the world’s population will grow to almost 10 billion people.  This pressure, along with a changing global climate and the spread of prosperity across the world means new ways of growing, sustaining, and delivering our food will need to be found.  We also know that there are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world, yet fewer than 20 species now provide 90% of our food

So, what then are the possibilities for the world’s menu in 2050?

Here’s a few well known ideas that have been tossed around:

  • Lab grown meat
  • 3D printed food
  • Burgers, flour, and snack bars made out of insects
  • Algae and fungi mainstream foods
  • Plant-based meat substitutes
  • Edible food packaging
  • Using sound to alter taste – maybe we’ll start seeing QR codes for playlists on our food packaging.  According to experts, listening to a certain frequency can make your cake taste sweeter.
  • ‘Personalised nutrition’ will use genetic tests to fill in those gaps to offer healthy eating guidance tailored to the individual.
  • Robotic Chef’s for the home – imagine being able to send a message to your Robo-Chef while on the commute home to prepare a recipe of your choice.
  • Vertical farming and supermarkets growing their own food for sale

There is just so much happening in this space!

Unfortunately the debate over how to address the global food challenge has become very divisive, pitting conventional agriculture and global commerce against local food systems and organic farms.  We need to explore all ideas, whether from organic and local farms or high-tech and conventional farms, and blend the best of both, diversity truly matters.

The global Future Agro Challenge Community is passionate about the fact that in order to revolutionize the world’s menu, we must start with the food that comes from farmers and their landholdings, we believe the ‘ag’ in agricultural innovation comes first.  

There has never been a better or more important time to build a healthy and vibrant agrifood innovation ecosystem.

To this end, here at FAC, we have developed a suite of tools to assist communities from all around the globe to collaborate and work together to solve the food production and supply challenges of the future.  We have a world network in over 60 countries and we want you to join our efforts to build local ecosystems to solve global food puzzle problems and utilise our global competition for local agripreneurs to reach global visibility.  

Join the revolution today!  Contact Us: https://facagro.com/

Nominations for FAC Australia Now Open!

Once upon a time the tractor provided groundbreaking advances for modern agriculture. Today agtech comes in all kinds of packages, from robotics to smart phone software, innovations are everywhere. If you have an Australian innovation ready to revolutionise farming and secure global food security we want to hear from you. Nominate for Future Agro Challenge Australia for your chance to take your innovation to the world.  Visit the AusFAC website to find out how to nominate.

JOEY GHANEM – FAC GLOBAL IMPACT MAKER INTERVIEW

Name: Joey Ghanem, Communication and Outreach Manager
Country: Lebanon
Organisation: Berytech

Joey started working with Berytech in 2018 specifically in the Agrytech Program, supporting and scaling innovations in the agri-food sector. Together with the team, she jumped into the second edition of the Future Agro Challenge in Lebanon, joining the mission of this great initiative. This global partnership allowed Berrytech to expose Lebanese startups on a global scale letting them compete with other countries, giving them the opportunity to join an international competition, meet investors, and meet other successful startups from around the globe working in the agri-food sector.

 

In 2019, Joey got the opportunity to attend the Global Agripreneur Summit in Greece and support the Lebanese Agripreneur of the year 2019- Compost Baladi, allowing her to meet other impact makers from around the globe as well as startups and work collaboratively to push agripreneurs forward.

 

Joey says one of the biggest challenges she has faced is to convince entrepreneurs to start innovating in the agri-food sector, in spite of the misconception of the need to have an agricultural background to be able to innovate in it. She says we need business experts, entrepreneurs, technical experts among many other expertise, in addition to the agricultural experts to be able to nurture strong startups with sustainable solutions.

 

According to Joey, FAC is giving the opportunity for startups to get exposed globally and meet face-to-face with other innovators. The program has become an annual hub where startups, investors, experts, impact makers can meet and share ideas. Joey is also working with Industry Disruptors-Game Changers and Sanad in the recently launched regional FAC Impact Makers Program, providing a capacity building program to ecosystem builders in North Africa and the MENA region. This program is allowing ecosystem builders to work hand in hand to better support agri-food startups in the region, creating a nurturing environment and network.  This initiative will help improve and push forward innovation regionally to be competitive globally.

 

Through her work with many startups (from idea stage to growth stage), through many hackathons, ideathons and capacity building programs, as well as, SMEs working on innovation in the agrifood sector through the QOOT Cluster, Joey discovered that most of these companies started working in the agri-food sector based on a personal motivation from being the son/daughter of a farmer, living in a rural area, or simply deciding to try and find solutions to their own challenge.

 

Joey believes having a challenge to solve is a must, combined with a passion to the sector, in enhancing the dynamic of the team and pushing them to succeed. Joey says. “today, startups have a big role to play, yet, we need to innovate and scale regionally to start with, using what is around us, bringing solutions that might be evident in the developed countries to the developing countries, to then adapting/pivoting and scaling globally”.

 

One of the achievements Joey is most proud of is to be working with people from different backgrounds despite all the challenges Lebanon is facing from a cultural and political point of view, collaborating and bringing the sector forward while benefiting Lebanon through events run by Berytech. On top of that, Joey is thrilled to have organized the first Lebanese Agri-food Innovation day in 2019, gathering professionals, private/public sector, academia, entrepreneurs, experts to meet and join the discussion around innovation in the agri-food sector. It brought awareness to the sector, gathered local and international speakers, QOOT Cluster members, and startups while benefiting the Lebanese scene allowing to create awareness and form collaborations among several players.

 

Thanks so much Joey for sharing your Future Agro Challenge journey with us to date, we look forward to seeing many more exciting agrifoodtech developments and collaborations coming from Lebanon in the near future.

 

Create: 

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

AGATA CORREIA – FAC GLOBAL IMPACT MAKER INTERVIEW

Name: Ágata Correia
Country: Mozambique
Organisation: DEV MOZAMBIQUE

Agata Correia holds a bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine by Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), Mozambique, with a focus on ethnobotanical and phytomedicine research. She has been a collaborator to UEM’s Coordination Center for Gender Issues (CeCaGe), participating in several projects concerning Gender Equality and Women Empowerment. Agata is also a member of TEDxMaputo Team, having organized several events. At the time being, she is SANBio’s FemBioBiz and Future Agro Challenge project manager at DEV Mozambique, as well as a SANBio Youth Ambassador, while developing her own company – SATIVA, a native medicinal herbs food supplement manufacturer.

For Agata, the Future Agro Challenge is one of the projects that she runs as part of her role at DEV MOZAMBIQUE.

Please enjoy getting to see and follow a little of Agata’s journey as a FAC Impact Maker.

“The future agro challenge is one of the most dynamic and engaging competitions, regarding Agripreneurship and Agrinnovation, that we host, both in our company and in the country. First of all, because it is centred on a common ground world issue – food safety – which is greatly prioritized in developing countries such as Mozambique. In the last decades, especially in the last ten years, food safety has taken over a big chunk of the national agenda, therefore, there has been an increasing effort to tackle this problem from different approaches.

FAC brings to the country a more practical and inclusive approach to the issue. Getting together, not only different stakeholders from society (agripreneurs, investors, government, scientists, etc.), but ultimately, different countries , bringing a sense of unity and cooperation, is, in my opinion, what makes FAC stand out from other similar initiatives.

As a country in development, in Mozambique we face many basic structural challenges. The economy, while growing, is still fragile, so young entrepreneurs struggle to create a strong and stable ground for their endeavours.  Agri innovation, agritech, digital agribusiness, are well integrated concepts on the agripreneurship scene in many countries in the globe, yet, the challenges inherent to our economical and structural profile limits, in a way, the ability to be innovative, and ultimately to compete on the same level with other countries.”

 

Create: 

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

FAC Impact Maker Program Has Launched!

The Future Agro Challenge has launched an exciting new program aimed at supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the agriculture and food sectors, with farmers firmly placed at the forefront of the work being done.

The Future Agro Challenge (FAC) Impact Maker Program for MENA focuses specifically in the agrifood innovation sector aims to empower and strengthen capacities of Impact Makers [incubators, accelerators, NGOs, for profit enterprises, and other organizations] to help better achieve employment generation, socio-economic development, and community development through further collaboration.  The program offers training to Impact Makers who work diligently in each respective country to build an agrifood innovation ecosystem in the aim to empower agripreneur success.

This MENA program is created through a joint collaboration between Future Agro Challenge [FAC] and Berytech and funded by the SANAD fund technical assistance program, managed by Finance In Motion.

The Future Agro Challenge (FAC) Impact Maker Program is exanding across the globe into other regions to help the Impact Makers establish an impactful agrifood innovation program tailor-made to their communities’ farming and food industry challenges and needs.  To sign up for the next cohort – please send your interest at hello@facagro.com.  We would appreciate you sharing the details of this amazing opportunity with your networks.

Never been a better time to be an agripreneur!

Many of the world’s leading industries have been severely disrupted this year as governments across the globe attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. Industries such as sporting events, restaurants, education, and tourism have been impacted the most, but there are a few that have been deemed essential to everyday life, including food manufacturing, and farming.  There has never been a better time to become an agripreneur!

The current economic climate, combined with the global trends of a rural to urban migration wave, a hungrier world, a wealthier world, choosy customers and transformative technology make for a ripe mix in the Agriculture arena.  There is huge potential for productivity growth – driven by technology, robotics, automation, precision agriculture and big data collection.  Innovation is a real buzz word at the moment, but that is rightly so and the challenge for global agriculture is how best to be involved in this ‘knowledge revolution’.  

65% of kids in school today will work in jobs in the future that currently don’t exist. Rural communities around the world need entrepreneurs who will combat the ‘brain drain of losing young people to cities’ and build global businesses from their bedrooms, creating jobs and boosting rural economies.  Innovation is about putting ideas and knowledge to good use.  We need to look beyond our individual countries’ borders for innovation and inspiration in agriculture so as not to run the risk of re-inventing the wheel.  Each nation has a piece of the puzzle required to ensure the sustainability and success of food manufacturing and farming into the  future.

Equally important is the fact that we will have to take our consumers on this agri innovation journey with us to ensure they are informed of the benefits of increased quality, less waste and enriched sustainability due to innovations in their food and fibre production.

We need to visualize a future world where the food manufacturing and farming industries are robust, innovative, successful, well funded, abundant, affordable, and healthy. Our challenge as Future Agro Challenge ecosystem builders, is to figure out how, specifically, this future can come to fruition?

The answer I believe is that current farmers and agripreneurs must commit and get highly involved in the agrifood tech industries.  They must collaborate with each other, converse with consumers and most definitely embrace being creative.

The food system we leave for future generations of children around the globe, will be determined by the farmers and agripreneurs who get started on turning their ideas into reality, today.

APEH OMEDE – FAC GLOBAL IMPACT MAKER INTERVIEW

Name: Apeh Omede
Country: Nigeria
Organisation: Future Agro Challenge Nigeria
Website: www.thegreenrishehub.com

Apeh Omede is the CEO and co-founder at Greenrise Innovation Hub of Nigeria (The GreenRise Hub), which is Nigeria’s premier agri-foodtech specific business innovation hub. He is also the founder of FarmCoach Agro-Services through which he provides information services to small and medium size farmers and farming organisations in Nigeria. Apeh volunteers as a mentor with Thought for Food to support agripreneurs with their business building journey .

One of his most important activities is to advise young farmers on creating sustainable businesses. The biggest opportunities Apeh can see will be creating solutions or promoting innovations that can help increase food production in a sustainable way and this is why Apeh became involved with the Future Agro Challenge.

As an agripreneur ecosystem builder, the greatest challenge is to get stakeholders on board, especially in a society where the focus for these stakeholders and investors is on other areas of the economy. While other non-agriculture ecosystem can easily attract support and funding both from the government and corporate organizations, it may take the agrifood ecosystem twice the time and effort to achieve same. This tends to slow down the pace at which the agrifood ecosystem is growing across the country.

It is in this nexus of securing more support for the agripreneurs in the ecosystem that the Future Agro Challenge comes in. Through the challenge, young agripreneurs have the opportunity to have their businesses showcased to stakeholders and potential investors. It also provides the opportunity for them to receive business mentoring and network with peers and share and exhange ideas to support their businesses.

From working in the ecosystem, I have learned that agripreneurs are daring. They take up a challenge no one bold enough to confront and find a solution to it. By doing that, they bring transformation to the agriculture and food production systems. I have also seen how aginnovation is impacting agriculture positively and proving to be the solution to the challenge of feeding the growing global population.

One thing we are proud of is starting the first agri-foodtech-specific innovation hub in Nigeria. Through our work, we have continued to inspire young agripreneurs in Nigeria to continue to build sustainable agribusinesses in the country.

Apeh’s advice to young entrepreneurs is to focus on developing innovative solutions that truly meet people’s needs and add value to their business. To achieve this, they must learn to work together to use their knowledge collectively and exchange views in order to meet the challenges posed by growing food demand both locally and globally.

 

Create: 

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

The ‘Ag’ in Agricultural Innovation Comes First

One of the key priorities for the Future Agro Challenge community around the world and something that sets us apart in our ecosystem building work, is our passion and belief that farmers need to be highly involved in leading the way in agricultural innovation.

At almost this time last year, the 4th FAC Global Agripreneurs Summit held in Thessaloniki, Greece, centred its theme as “Defining the Future Farmer 4.0”. The goal was to focus global conversations around envisioning how technology will transform the farmer, food, and nutrition. What will the current role of the farmer become? What changes will this create in the food industry? How will we address nutrition in this new dialogue? What new models will the food logistics industry absorb? What skills will be needed for the future farmer? How can traditional farmers prepare for agriculture 4.0? Should robots substitute current farmer roles or do farmers play a substantial role beyond what robots are able to offer us?

Worldwide, agricultural productivity growth is slowing – the key to making the most of future agriculture opportunities is efficiency in production.  For this to occur, we need new technology coupled with an innovative culture.  There is much passion, talent and ideas in the agricultural industry, but not enough commercialisation, patents or venture capital to bring these innovations to market.  We need to build an Agrifood Innovation ecosystem that supports an entrepreneurial mindset around the globe and we need to intentionally include farmers in various roles; as investors, adopters, developers, advisors and consultants. If we don’t, we risk not achieving the trust and credibility required to build traction for innovation and change, or worse still, building and investing in products that don’t solve real problems or add value and that nobody wants to buy!

The Future Agro Challenge isn’t just about the future of farming – innovations are changing the way farms operate right now. From optimising seed placement in horticulture, to real-time tracking of plant disease to automated fruit picking – FAC ecosystem builders are bringing together agrifood innovators and leaders from around the world – where farmers, agripreneurs, chefs, investors, organisations, policy makers, and other thought leaders work together to help bring life to game-changing innovations, and propel agriculture as a sustainable source of growth and economic development to energize the traditional agrifood industry into an innovative space.

The Future Agro Challenge is committed to ensuring that the ‘ag’ in agricultural innovation comes first.

To this end, we want to hear about amazing farmers in your country who are putting innovative practices into place in their agricultural businesses – please reach out to us via our website, social media or email and share their stories so we can help to amplify the exciting work farmers are doing all over the world.

RAMY BOUJAWDEH – FAC GLOBAL IMPACT MAKER INTERVIEW

Name: Ramy Boujawdeh, Deputy General Manager at Berytech and Director of the ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative
Country: Lebanon
Organisation: Berytech
Website: www.berytech.org 

 

Berytech started looking at the importance of the agri-food sector and started building the new Agrytech Program back in 2017 to support innovations and scale agritech innovations from Lebanon to the world. We researched global initiatives and competitions aligned with our mission to build global partnerships to expose our startups on a global scale. We found the Future Agro Challenge (FAC) platform and it seemed to be the right one. We contacted them to join their network, and they were looking forward to having an organization from Lebanon onboard. Since then, Berytech has launched the FAC chapter in Lebanon, exposing local startups to a global competition and network. Following this partnership, Carla Tanas, co-founder of FAC, visited Berytech, encouraged entrepreneurs to join the global initiative, and showcased the importance of innovating in the agri-food sector and the potential of this global initiative.

Through the Future Agro Challenge were able to expose some of our innovators through the Global Agripreneur Summit and meet with different Impact Makers from around the globe. This allowed the startups, as well as, the organization to exchange knowledge and expertise with other Impact Makers, all having the same mission.  Growing the network allowed us to welcome Carla Tanas, as our main keynote speaker, to talk about the importance of the sector during the first Agri-Food Innovation Day 2019. During this event, Carla motivated more than 1000 persons to join the cause and pushed them to jump into the sector.

An anecdote I always like to share is that in the beginning we thought it would be love at first sight. We built the Agrytech Program believing it was going to be easy and everybody would jump on the opportunity to innovate in the sector. Then, we realized that people were not aware of the agrifood sector and they were not interested in joining the cause. We had to create the buzz around it through organizing hackathons, ideathons, startup weekends, roadshows, and joining local and international exhibitions, to attract more people to innovate in the sector.

With that passion for the sector and my own background as an Agriculture Engineer, we managed to support up until today, more than 60 startups innovating in the agri-food sector and having more than a thousand people joining our events/competitions/ or following our agrifood news. In addition, I am leading the Regional Innovation Hub (RIH) in the MENA Region for the Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) challenge fund.

The final thing I would like to share is that by empowering the youth, channeling their innovations in the agriculture sector, and using science, technology and engineering as a mechanism to grow the sector, we will ensure the creation of jobs, access to nutritious food, and development of the sector across the globe.

 

Create: 

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

Fields4Ever Project: FAC 2019 Global Agripreneur Winner – Biome Makers

Fields4Ever Project: FAC 2019 Global Agripreneur Winner – Biome Makers

Fields4ever is a global initiative driven by Biome Makers for the conservation and monitoring of soil health by promoting the development of more sustainable and respectful agricultural management. It is open to any organization that supports agriculture, whether public or private.

80 projects in 25 countries

In this first phase, 80 research projects on soil health have been launched in 25 countries over four continents, and nearly 6,000 soil samples are being analyzed. Among the topics being researched, the following stands out:  differences of the crops in same soil with similar conditions; monitoring the impact of the use of bioactive products in the soil; analysis of the risk of diseases in soil by using different management practices; differentiation between different types of soil (terroir, regionality); promotion of soil bioactivity, including carbon sequestration, among others.

From small farms, to large research institutions or food corporations, many have joined fields4ever to contribute with their analyses to generate a detailed knowledge of soil health across the globe.  Thanks to the first call of fields4ever, a multitude of projects has been unified to help the recovery of soil health.  Dedicated to the cause of better soil, better food, better life, Biome Makers has opened its technology and made it available to the global research community with 20,000 samples. Each beneficiary project has access to the BeCrop technology, the latest generation of functional soil microbiome analysis,developed by the Californian startup. These tests allow farmers to evaluate the soil microbiome, which is the most powerful and natural bio-indicator of soil bioactivity and functionality.

Biome Makers wants to continue promoting the initiative and get others to join to achieve a significant change on global scale, therefore, a second call for projects will be held before the end of October. As indicated by Alberto Acedo, scientific director of the company Biome Makers; “We believe that this first phase of the initiative has achieved great results, fields4ever has enabled our technology to be used globally and helps soil health recuperation. Our mission as a company is to restore soils, help mitigate CO2 emissions and to improve the crop hence food quality”.

FAC is Celebrating International Day of Rural Women

As many countries and regions face global challenges in food security, food safety, food waste and healthy sustainable diets, local and regional solutions right in our backyards are often overlooked. Too many voices go unheard. Our vast Future Agro Challenge network is committed to showcasing, growing, and expanding diverse visions from all over the world.

Rural women and girls are leaders in agriculture, food security and nutrition, land, managing natural resource management and unpaid and domestic care work. They are at the frontline when natural resources and agriculture are threatened. In fact, globally, one in three employed women works in agriculture. Women also collect biomass fuels, manually process food materials, and pump water; eighty percent of households without piped water rely on women and girls for water collection.

On the International Day of Rural Women, UN Women is calling for action to support rural women and girls and grow their capacities to respond to climate change through agricultural production, food security, and natural resources management.

We are fortunate to have many rural female entrepreneurs, investors, impact makers and supporters in our Future Agro Challenge community and today on October 15 we are celebrating the vital role that rural women play around the globe in developing innovative and fundable food, agtech, and agriculture innovations from farm to fork and beyond!

 

Happy International Day of Rural Women!

Spotlight On – Baobab Products Mozambique 

In honour of the International Day of Rural Women, we thought there was no better time to shine a spotlight on the work of some terrific female FAC agripreneurs who were past finalists at our Global Agripreneurs Summit.

Baobab Products Mozambique (BPM) was set up by Eco-Micaia, a social enterprise established in 2008 in Mozambique by Andrew Kingman (UK) and Milagre Nuvunga (Mozambique). It is directly linked with Micaia Foundation (NGO). While Andrew leads the company and its work on natural products, Milagre leads the Foundation in its work helping people escape poverty and build sustainable livelihoods.

Almost all of the people from whom BPM buys baobab are women. The women live in one of the driest parts of Manica Province where agriculture is difficult and life is hard. Baobab is a critical resource and a rare source of income.

These amazing women are leading the change in their communities, using income from Baobab to school their children, launch other small businesses, and invest in their homes. The women also receive support from Micaia, our partner in development.

Micaia Foundation’s project work incorporates most of the areas in which BPM buys baobab. This means that the company is able to facilitate opportunities for its harvesters to get access to training, learning and practical support.

Current projects include: helping communities in the baobab areas undertake forest inventories and develop management plans for the natural resources that exist in the community providing a facilitated informal learning programme to help the women develop ideas for how they can invest (eg in other small businesses) the money they earn from baobab sales. 

BPM is a shareholding company and Eco-Micaia set aside 20% of the shares for the women Baobab harvesters. BPM, with help from their partner Micaia, is working to enable the harvesters to play an active role in the planning and running of the company, and ultimately share in its success.

Alongside the exports of organically certified baobab products for the world market, BPM is determined to create a suite of finished products for local and southern African markets.

Always striving for quality and distinctiveness, BPM’s goal is to show that African companies can compete with the best international brands in the world.

What a great success story and we congratulate all of the team involved at BPM – keep up the terrific work and lead the way for other rural women to become agripreneurs!

 

FLO MOSOANE – FAC GLOBAL IMPACT MAKER INTERVIEW

 

Name: Flo Mosoane
Country: South Africa
Organization: FoodMakers Africa
Website: www.foodmakers.africa

Flo is a South Africa based Agripreneur and Agrifood startup Developer. She is the founder and host of We Back Agripreneurs, a podcast that tells stories of the tech that supports small scale agriculture. She is also a founder at Food Makers Africa, which is the country convener for Future Agro Challenge in South Africa.

Flo operates and mentors business in agrifood and small scale business development. Her mission is to mobilize the Agrifood innovation ecosystem to achieve some of the most pressing UN SDGs and effect sustainable development in Africa.

I have been a small scale farmer for a few years now, and I was involved in the startup ecosystem as a COO at a different global competition which covers over 15 different sectors. From my own experience as a farmer, it occurred to me that the structure of the startup ecosystem as it is doesn’t serve AgriFood Innovation as well as it does other sectors like FinTech. That’s when I started looking for opportunities that are specific to AgriFood and came across Future Agro Challenge. I just reached out to Carla, and I was fortunate that at the time there was an open opportunity to be an Impact Maker for South Africa and convene the local competition here.

I have believed for a long time that AgriFood is our best opportunity as a continent for people to not only dig themselves out of poverty but to also build thriving livelihoods and become globally competitive. What is going to move us closer to realizing that opportunity is innovation and technology? That is why I wanted to position myself to uncover and support the technology that will impact the more than 100 million small scale farmers across the continent.

Technology adoption among small scale farmers here is extremely limited, so it remains a challenge for innovators to apply their solutions on the ground. This is a challenge we are keen to help innovators bridge. Also, the ecosystem is highly fragmented with elements of it that are underdeveloped. So we have had to be involved in establishing other means to plug the open gaps in the ecosystem, like R&D and project development.

FAC is a way for us to uncover innovations that impact small scale farmers and engage the innovators with the intent of supporting them to access the resources that they need to grow their businesses.

All the agripreneurs that I have met are highly passionate people and committed to the Global Food Security goal. It is highly encouraging for me because it means whatever challenges stand in the way of thriving local and global food systems, there are incredibly talented men and women ready to plug the gaps through innovation.

 We are working on a current project for small scale farmer inclusion, which is something we are really excited about.  It is a Franchise Model for berry production. Berry production in South Africa is experiencing huge growth and is a sector with strong local demand, but even stronger export orientation. We believe that it will help small scale farmers operate profitable farms and have links to global value chains.

Besides the innovative growing methods, there are incredible developments in biotech, VR, IoT and machine learning that we will be including in our production that will give our small scale farmers an additional edge in the market.

Also, this way of farming is naturally more accommodating for women farmers and its tech orientation is very attractive for young farmers, so we look forward to bolstering women and youth involvement in agriculture as a direct result of this project.

The message I like to spread more broadly is that agriculture goes well beyond farming huge fields of grain in the hot sun. There are incredible opportunities in this space for professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators from all walks of life. We as AgriFood Impact Makers take it upon ourselves to make the space more attractive. I just want to extend an invitation to anyone listening to please explore whatever their career and business aspirations are within this sector. It is highly rewarding.

 

Create: 

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

 

LUIS SALAZAR – FAC GLOBAL IMPACT MAKER INTERVIEW

Name: Luis Salazar, Investa VB
Country: Peru
Organisation: Investa VB
Website: www.investavb.com

We first approached FAC due to the importance that we consider agriculture has for our country, the world and the planet’s sustainability. We have already been supporting agtech entrepreneurs for several years and we will continue to do so.

However, what attracted us to the cause of ‘Revolutionizing the World’s Menu’ is that we could easily identify several beneficial consequences like social inclusion, generation of employment and the increase of the productivity of agriculture while reducing the environmental and social costs. Even more, because Peru is a megadiverse country with a growing ag-industry. Peru is the leader in avocados, grapes, bananas, asparagus, and others. The agriculture sector in Peru accounts for 5.4% of GDP and employs 4 million Peruvians (24.2% of the EAP). Key indicators of this growth are that over the past decade, this sector has grown at an average annual rate of 3.2%, while agricultural exports increased from just USD 119 million in 1990 to just over USD 6 bln in 2019.

The biggest challenge being an agripreneur in Peru is that even though Peru is a megadiverse country and there is a huge supply of valuable products, there is a lack of entrepreneurial knowledge, experience and tools inside the Peruvian ag-tech ecosystem. Therefore, many startups end up not having a viable (and scalable) value proposition, a strong team, nor a product-market fit.

FAC helps to connect the local ag-tech ecosystem with other broader global ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship. Therefore it boosts the technology transfer and startup exposure.

This sector has the potential to completely reshape global agriculture, dramatically increasing the productivity of the agriculture system while reducing the environmental and social costs of current ag production practices. The agripreneurs have to adapt increasingly to the market demand, changing consumer habits, enhanced environmental regulations, new requirements for product quality, chain management, food safety, sustainability, and so on. 

The ag-tech innovations are absolutely essential. Politicians, practitioners, as well as, scientists have recognized that farmers and growers increasingly require entrepreneurship, besides sound management and craftsmanship, to be sustainable in the future.

Our FAC-entrepreneurs (winners of the national competition) have increased their exposure inside the startup ecosystem, which allowed them to win several prizes and acknowledgment, like the FAC Up Nutrition Award, and since then have even been acknowledged by the Presidency of The Republic.

We believe a concerted effort to develop an Ag-tech entrepreneurial support system will result in immense benefits for Peru and Latam itself, as a megadiverse region with several environmental and food-chain limitations and problems, which can be solved if we work together.

 

Create: 

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

Let’s Talk About the Importance of Agricultural Education

The current problems in our world today are almost too many to list: food security is coming under attack, rural and urban poverty and inequality is at an all-time high and the environment is quickly buckling under the weight of the human footprint.

The Future Agro Challenge is dedicated to solving these on-going problems by bringing the important players together to create a much-needed positive change in the world.  Education has a big role to play in producing this impact.  Our schools seem to be under so much pressure to achieve literacy and numeracy outcomes and as a result kids are not being taught the fundamentals. Children all over the world need to understand that agriculture is not just farming; it is a sustainable way of life.

Agriculture provides everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis, but so few children (and adults) truly understand our basic dependence on this one industry. With only a small part of our global population living on farms, or having any connection to rural areas, many children do not understand how their food gets from the farm to their plates, or how much work is involved to get that food. We need balanced education about farming so we can appreciate where food and fibre comes from and the importance of sustainable and secure agriculture for a growing world population. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on the planet who will need to be fed and clothed by agriculture – does that not in itself tell us we need our kids learning about this industry?

The worldwide demand for agricultural university graduates outweighs supply. Given today’s economic climate, employment opportunities for young people with expertise in the food, agricultural, natural resources and related science and engineering sectors are expected to remain strong well into the future.  Four major factors will shape the market for university graduates in the next five years: macroeconomic conditions and retirements; consumer preferences for nutritious and safe foods; food, energy and environment public policy choices; and global market shifts in population, income, food and energy.

We need to embed agriculture in our school learning curriculums from kindergarten and ensure we have students continue to postgraduate research in agriculture.  We could be risking our global future food and economic security through neglecting the continued research and development of an education sector that is vital to life all over the world.

There is no doubt agriculture suffers from image problems, often viewed as an inferior and non-academic profession. However, agriculture is an industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and makes a significant contribution to the global economy.  Indeed, agripreneurs are leading some of the most innovative and exciting inventions and ideas that our world has currently ever seen!

This is all very academic, but if we keep it simple; agriculture is fun for kids. They get to learn with animals and plants, with computers, machinery and technology. The sky is the limit for children when you combine agricultural education with a passion for living sustainably.

Agriculture offers work in cities, the country, laboratories, offices, paddocks or flying drones and driving high tech machinery and equipment. It is a diverse, challenging, innovative, and exciting area.

10 Agtech & Foodtech Incubators and Accelerators from Around the Globe

10 Agtech & Foodtech Incubators and Accelerators from around the globe

The agtech and foodtech arena is a rapidly growing and changing industry and there are a vast number of challenges facing agripreneurs starting out in business in this space.

The ‘Valley of Death’ is not a myth and it is no secret that up to 90% of new ideas fail, so Incubators and Accelerators can be invaluable in providing support to startups in agtech and foodtech.  It is important to note the difference between the two.  An Incubator focuses on early stage ideas and helps an agripreneur to build their business from the ground up with no defined timeframe.  An Accelerator, is often then the next step, as its purpose is to help an agrifood startup move to the next stage of its business development.  Accelerator programs generally extend some form of investment and accept equity as a form of payment from participant startups.

Here are ten Incubators and Accelerators from around the world that we have had connections with via the Future Agro Challenge.

Asia Pacific Region

SproutX

Farmers2Founders

Grow

Americas

Investa VB

Illumina Accelerator

Thrive

Africa

FoodMakers Africa

Agriculture Africa Accelerator 

MENA 

Berytech

Europe

EIT Food Accelerator Network

 

Please note: these are just a few of the many programs available around the world to support agrifood tech startups. Contact us today if you would like to be connected with an incubator or accelerator close to you or tell us about a terrific program in your neck of the woods!

Jessica Fealy – FAC Global Impact Maker Interview

Name: Jessica Fealy
Country: Australia
Organisation: Future Agro Challenge Australia
Website: https://fac.startuptablelands.org/

 

I first got involved with the Future Agro Challenge in Australia in 2016 through Startup Tablelands where I was working as a volunteer driving team member with the community group who are passionate about enabling Innovation & Entrepreneurship in rural & remote communities.

My husband and I farm on our generational family farm, Blue Sky Produce (we grow avocados, mangoes and limes) with our four kids in Far North Queensland, Australia.  We are intricately connected to the process of producing food and very aware that the agriculture industry around the globe is changing rapidly.  We believe that it is vital for farmers, who are the grassroots of the food industry to be at the forefront of leading the change in the food systems of the future.

I love that the Future Agro Challenge is committed to ensuring that all of the ‘pieces of the puzzle’ involved in food production are part of the solution to ‘revolutionizing the world’s menu’.  I was drawn to the concept of being able to host an agricultural innovation pitch competition out of a capital city, and right on a farm, in the heart of one of the biggest and best food-producing regions in the world, here on the Atherton Tablelands. So it was really an easy choice to be involved with an awesome team of people in co-founding the first Australian Future Agro Challenge competition and ensuring that the ‘ag’ in ‘agtech’ comes first when thinking about agricultural innovation!

The hardest thing about building an agrifood innovation ecosystem is bringing people on the journey of understanding what agripreneurship is all about and why it is so important to build an ecosystem around agripreneurs to support them to bring great ideas to reality.  In a practical sense, building an ecosystem in regional Australia has also been difficult due to the large distances people often have to travel to attend events and connecting with tech experts can also be a challenge.

The problem FAC solves in our community is the lack of awareness around how quickly the agrifood industry in Australia is changing.  By hosting the Future Agro Challenge in our rural community we are able to bring some of the best ag innovators in Australia right to our doorstep to show our farmers and innovators in our community, what is happening in the rest of Australia.  In addition, we can showcase our region and talented agricultural industry to a global network.  There is a lot of value and power in a network like FAC for those wanting to learn and take advantage of agricultural innovation for the benefit of their farming operation or business.

I’ve learned that ag innovation requires huge amounts of collaboration and trust!  Also, there is a difference between an ag innovator ie a farmer or person who comes up with an idea and an agripreneur, ie the business or person who then markets and sells the idea.  Ag innovators and Agripreneurs have completely different skill sets and both are necessary to bring a solution to a problem to life; however, it is sometimes difficult for those involved to understand the different skills that each needs to bring.

When asked if there is an achievement or contribution I am most proud of, I have to say it is hard to beat our 2018 FAC Australia winners, AgUnity, going over to the global competition and taking out the title of Global Agripreneurs of the Year!!!  However, I think I am really just most proud of our team having a crack at doing something different and new, because we believed so passionately in wanting to ensure our farming community was part of the global network and conversation happening around agricultural innovation.  I am really proud of working so hard to lower the barriers and challenges to those who have awesome ideas in our region, to enable them to access a global market, create jobs and awesome opportunities for local people while developing a culture of being some of the best agriculturalists in the world.

 

Some words of wisdom to share:

Nothing great is easy.”

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

“It’s not I can’t, it’s how can I?”

 

Create: 

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

What Makes a Thriving Agrifood Innovation Ecosystem?

All over the world, there has been a lot of conversation and work done around creating agrifood innovation ecosystems, now the focus is shifting toward what makes a top functioning one.

 

Let’s start with what an innovation ecosystem actually is:

 

An “innovation ecosystem” is the term used to describe the various players, stakeholders, and community members that are critical for innovation.  In terms of an agrifood ecosystem, this includes farm businesses, government, research and development corporations, agripreneurs/startups, consumers and the broader community, universities and value chain partners.  Each plays a significant role in creating value in the larger ecosystem by transforming new ideas into reality through support and investment.  It is essential that all components know and respect their roles within the system, if we can align all players, we can fast track innovation.

 

What then does an agrifood ecosystem need to thrive?

 

Here are five key factors that are necessary to lower the barriers to getting started and accelerate the turning of agrifood ideas into reality:

 

  1. We need a mechanism that enables collaboration, a clear pathway for the ecosystem to connect and interact with each other.
  2. Education is essential for all components of the ecosystem to understand the bigger picture, and what their role is.
  3. An agricultural ecosystem must have a clearly defined culture of:

– transparency and generosity 

– embracing failure and learning

– celebrating, highlighting and sharing the stories of success

– embracing creativity and trying new things

– inclusive and diverse

  1. Long term commitment to the agrifood innovation ecosystem development – it takes time to build!  There must be continual activities and events that engage the whole system.
  2. Must be led by agripreneurs and innovators – they need to be the driving lifeblood of the ecosystem.

 

The overarching crucial component of a successful agricultural ecosystem is TRUST.  This is the enabler of collaboration and trust is built through consistency, integrity, benevolence and the ability of all involved to perform their part and be able to be relied upon to deliver what they say they will.

 

If we can build a global agrifood innovation ecosystem, it will yield results of increased expertise, increased job growth, increased diversification, and a faster rate of investment over time in solving the food and agiculture challenges of the world.  

 

About the Contributor:

Jessica Fealy is the co-founder of the Future Agro Challenge Australia, sits on the board of the Australian Agritech Association and has extensive experience working in the regional startup and innovation space.  Jess farms with her husband and four children at Blue Sky Produce, a family owned  mango, lime and avocado orchard located in Mareeba, Far North Queensland.  Jess is an experienced Chartered Accountant and Community Engagement practitioner and is the founder of Back Paddock Business, which provides business and communications support to rural enterprises. She is a Board Director with Northern Gulf Resource Management Group and also sits on the Agrifutures Australia Advisory Panel, and the Regional Economies Centre of Excellence Advisory Panel.  Jess 

COVID-19 Impact on the Agrifood Innovation Ecosystem in Georgia

If you’ve been following the news about the pandemic spread, you might have read articles in The Washington Post and other outlets praising Georgia’s response to COVID-19. Indeed, as of mid-August, the nation with 3.75 million population has reported 1,436 cases, with the majority already recovered, and with only 19 fatalities. The spread of the pandemic was slowed down mostly due to the government’s swift and determined actions – closing down schools, banning public gatherings, stopping public transportation, sealing the borders, closing down entrances and exits to all major cities, and even banning the movement of taxis and private passenger cars. 

 

According to Georgia’s National Tourism Administration (a government body under the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development), 9.36 million foreign travelers visited Georgia in 2019 – almost 2.5 times more than the country’s population, and the inbound tourism has been growing without interruptions for over a decade. These numbers translate not only into the growth of food and beverage consumption but also the growth of economy and demand. Given the fact that Georgia is an important destination known for its wine and for its rich, diverse cuisine, inbound tourism has been an important contributor to the growth of agriculture, wine production, as well as food and beverage startups. 

 

Unfortunately, the pandemic has virtually stopped all incoming tourism, and with the future of travel still being unclear, the agriculture industry needs to see this crisis as an opportunity to rethink how to substitute the decline of demand on the local market. The obvious scenario would be to replace some of the imports and to increase the volume of the exports. The former has a great potential given the underdevelopment and vast supply of the country’s agricultural land plots, but the latter, however, seems more complex, as the Georgian exporters will have to diversify the geography, identify markets interested in – and able to import – their products, or to wait for the recovery in their traditional markets, prospects of which, again, seem very unclear.

 

To many, Georgia is known as the cradle of wine. At least, that’s what the archeologists who found the earliest evidence of winemaking in ancient Georgian relics say. (Sorry, Greece.) Today, Georgia is also an important wine exporter. In fact, Georgia’s wine exports in 2018 were valued at $197 million – two times more than Greece’s $97.6 million, according to American Association of Wine Economists. Greece, sorry again. Georgian National Wine Agency, however, cites Georgia’s wine exports in 2018 as a $203 million business, and claims it grew by over 17% in 2019, reaching almost $240 million.

 

The future of Georgia’s wine exports largely depends on the economic recovery of its key export markets, and the ability of the exporters to scout new geographies. 

 

Another important product which Georgia produces and exports is hazelnuts. Over 60.000 hazelnut growers saw their crop being attacked by the brown marmorated stink bug during 2016-2018, but in 2019 the infestation was stopped and the exports started to recover reaching $63.3 million. In its best years, Georgia’s hazelnuts exports reached $176-183 million, so the prospects of fast growth here are very realistic.

 

After being hit with the pandemic, many Georgian entrepreneurs demonstrated their creativity and resilience and moved their agritourism tours and experiences (as almost everything else) to the online world. Relatively high levels of internet and smartphone penetration, as well as, affordable and fast internet, have granted an opportunity for the tourism industry to sell their services such as wine tasting or culinary masterclasses online. This innovative method helps at least some of the players in the agrotourism to stay afloat. And although the tourists can’t actually feel the taste and flavor of Georgian food and drinks online, they definitely can feel the warmth, the resilience, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Georgian people, and plan to experience Georgia in person at the first opportunity.  

 

About the Contributor:

Haky Asriyants leads the Future Agro Challenge Georgia chapter in collaboration with Guri Koiava.  Hayk was included in the New Europe 100 list and recognized as one of the 100 changemakers in Central and Eastern Europe by Financial Times, Google, Res Publica journal, and Visegrad fund.  Holding a mentor certification and firmly believing in the importance of promoting entrepreneurship, Hayk spends part of his spare time coaching and mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and startups. He is also a frequent speaker and facilitator at innovation and entrepreneurship events and conferences. 

With thanks to FAC Georgia Impact Maker, Hayk Asriyants for contributing his time and expertise in writing this article to share with our FAC global community.

 

Cecilia Wessinger – FAC Global Impact Maker Interview 

Name: Cecilia Wessinger
Country: USA
Organisation: Future Agro Challenge USA
Website: https://facusa.org/

It all started a year ago in Bahrain…

I met Carla Tanas, founder of the Future Agro Challenge (FAC) at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. We were both delegates representing our respective countries and connected on several levels, but mostly around our common love of food. She spoke passionately about her organization which started as a way to bring her beloved Greece back after their economic crisis which started a decade ago. She and her husband, Michalis Stangos strategized approaches inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I told her about my work with the Kauffman Foundation’s ESHIP Goals supporting the nascent field of entrepreneurial ecosystem building which was also inspired by the UNSDGs.

As our friendship grew, so did our discussions about FAC and how to support Ag entrepreneurship around the world. One thing that kept bubbling up was the lack of presence in the United States. Years ago, there was a Future Agro Challenge competition hosted by Arrowhead Center, part of New Mexico State University. I had spoken with the then director and learned it was no longer housing it. Carla and I continued to brainstorm about organizations that could support an entity in the US, but there were more hurdles in shifting the mindset of agro-centric institutions for the work needed to foster entrepreneurial development.

In the fall, I was invited to join her in Thessaloniki to be part of the Global Agripreneur Summit and Future Agro Challenge representing over 60 member countries.Taking part in the festivities and meeting innovators from all over the world was inspiring. I had the honor of facilitating a workshop with some of their Impact Makers, the leaders of FAC in countries like Australia, South Africa, Serbia, Lebanon, and Peru, just to name a few. They were as diverse as their homelands, but shared an aligned vision. Just as “there isn’t one single solution to the myriad of complex global challenges” as stated on FAC’s website, there isn’t one prototype of a leader or entrepreneurial solution. The range of start-ups varied from high-tech to social entrepreneurship, robotics to mapping soil genome. Though there were companies representing the United States, I discovered they were foreign nationals who incorporated here. While I appreciate those who come and develop ideas in our country, I was disappointed that there were no homegrown entities on the global stage.

Inspired by all that was going on across the world, I left Greece and landed in Madison, WI at Startup Champions Network’s (SCN) Fall Summit. Fresh in my mind was the dilemma of finding an organization to support ag startups nationally. I quickly realized the answer was in front of me. The people in the room were the best of the best when it came to fostering and cultivating entrepreneurs. One of the first people I spoke to at registration was Jake Hamann, from the Peoria Innovation Alliance. Jake is an OG when it comes to ecosystem building, he was one of the founding members of SCN and part of Startup America which was its predecessor. It was much simpler to approach the people already assisting entrepreneurs by running incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces and serving as mentors, funders and startup competition organizers to have them focus on agriculture and food (!) Late last year we started conversations about creating Future Agro Challenge USA and embarked on planning the event that was scheduled for this week.

In typical scrappy bootstrapping form, we reached out to people we knew and put together a framework for an MVP (minimal viable product) style event. Our plan was to start with one, possibly two challenges and send those winners to the global competition. Eventually, we looked to host 5 regional events (representative of the 5 USDA regions) then partnering with our friends at Established who runs Startup of The Year who would have an Ag vertical as part of their flagship event. This was all going well and we had picked up momentum as word spread about FAC USA. Then COVID-19 hit.

All the plans, including hosting state policy makers and rallying youth entrepreneurs came to a screeching halt.

While this was unplanned and unfortunate, it has offered us a gift. Now we have the time and energy to solidify the foundation of what we started months ago. Forced patience and quieting to fully engage our growing partnerships and hone our mission, vision and goals. We, who are accustomed and even thrive in uncertainty can take a breath to pause. Storming, forming and norming is a skill that many ecosystem builders have. Other leadership skills include the ability to see across systems, bridging and connecting. In this time of chaos, one of the most precious commodities is connectivity.

Future Agro Challenge USA is coming together as an alliance of organizations focused on how we solve the food puzzle. To sustain-ably nourish our communities, fostering robust growth and creativity. The challenge is not about winners and losers, it’s a way to open up opportunities for entrepreneurs to move forward; connecting them with resources and shining light on innovations that will feed and nurture the world.

~ This introduction to FAC USA is a work in progress, much like our organization and will evolve as we do. Thank you for your interest.~

Five Future Agro Challenge Agripreneurs you need to know about!

There’s an agricultural revolution underway and our passion is pushing the envelope until innovative and fundable food, agtech, and agriculture innovations have spread around the globe, from farm to fork and beyond. The Future Agro Challenge is the leading global competition, bringing together the best of the best to make it all happen.

As many countries and regions face global challenges in food security, food safety, food waste and healthy sustainable diets, local and regional solutions right in our backyards are often overlooked. Too many voices go unheard. Our vast network is here to showcase, grow, and expand the vision of agripreneurs from around the globe.

So, we’ve hand picked five of our previous Future Agro Challenge competition finalists from all over the world that you need to know about in 2020!

 

ISRAEL – ​CropX
About:
“When we founded CropX in 2015, our vision was to revolutionize and automate farm management using advanced Ag Analytics, similarly to the way satellite imagery revolutionized pest-control management, almost a decade ago. We immediately realized that in order for us to manage irrigation and fertilization in a precise, predictive & effective manner, we would have to close the loop by integrating data from both below & above ground, essentially covering the entire soil-plant-atmosphere continuum.”

 

GERMANY – ​Monitorfish
About:
“MonitorFish is a multicultural team of innovation-driven experts offering cognitive capabilities of Artificial Intelligence in fish farming. We provide local fish farmers with a precise action plan in real-time to maintain the highest quantity and quality of the fish. We focus on reducing the fish mortality in ponds so that the farmers’ investments are secured.”

 

SOUTH AFRICA – ​Reel Gardening
About:
“Reel Gardening is designed to be the simple solution to gardening – and simple is the best way to describe it. Reel Gardening is a biodegradable seed tape that can be planted straight into the ground. The tape contains high quality, non-chemically treated seed. All the worry, hassle and fuss is taken out of gardening. The convenience and simplicity of the seed tape makes gardening accessible to everyone. In addition you don’t need to think about which nutrients to place, what grows well together or how deep and at what distance apart to put the seeds into the soil. The biodegradable paper already anchors the seeds at the correct depth and distance apart with the necessary nutrients inside and every box includes companion plants.

 

LEBANON – ​Startchy
About:
“Startchy slows ripening, more than doubling marketable shelf-life. Our coating is made from plant-based organic certifiable ingredients and is transparent, odorless, and tasteless.” Startchy is controlled atmosphere on the fruit level. An edible coating, Startchy is sprayed onto fruits as an alternative to wax. One small step for fruit, one giant leap for shelf-life. Startchy extends the shelf-lifeof fresh produce by 2-3x.”

 

USA – ​Revolution Agriculture
About:
“Revolution Agriculture makes agriculture hyper-local through a democratized value chain. We partner with land owners and legal users to bring farms into the middle of anywhere. Customers will be able to order their produce or buy it from their favorite retailers, knowing it was grown locally, within their own communities or regions, instead of half way around the world.”

 

Through our Future Agro Challenge competition, selected agripreneurs gain access to world class mentors, investors, potential clients, and new market opportunities at the FAC Global Championships, a highlight event at the Global Agripreneurs Summit.

Applications are now officially open, head to our website ​@facagro.com/compete​ to find out more!

Agricultural Innovation In Australia

There is no doubt that 2020 has been an unusual year due to COVID-19, but Australian agriculture and agricultural innovation is still kicking along. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that as the second least subsidised ​agriculture industry in the world, and with one of the most volatile climates on the globe, ​disruption and overcoming challenges are pretty much business as usual for the agriculture industry in Australia.

Agriculture is Australia’s fastest growing sector and second only to mining in terms of its importance to the national economy. However, the productivity growth of the Australian agricultural sector has slowed down in recent years. This coupled with the global challenges of a rising demand for food from a growing population, changing consumer expectations, increased competition from developing nations, and an ever changing climate, means innovation is more important than ever for Agriculture in Australia.

With this in mind, in 2017, the ​National Farmers’ Federation ​of Australia announced a vision for Australian agriculture to exceed a farm gate value of $100 billion by 2030. The $100 billion vision is an important direction that many people, businesses and institutions in the agricultural industry are showing a willingness to focus on and organise themselves behind—mainly because of its simplicity and implied promise of greater sustained prosperity for Australia.

However, this is an ambitious goal which will require world class innovation to drive the transformational productivity gains required to meet the $100 billion figure. Research commissioned by ​Agrifutures Australia​ produced a baseline projection which came up with an estimated Australian farm-gate value of $84.3 billion by 2030, which is $15.7 billion below the $100 billion target.

So, there is a lot of work to be done and the Australian agricultural innovation ecosystem is really only just getting started.

The World Bank defines an innovation system as “a network of organisations, enterprises, and individuals focused on bringing new products, new processes, and new forms of organisation into economic use, together with the institutions and policies that affect their behaviour and performance.” The system,which includes people, culture, policies, laws and infrastructure, defines the way in which different agents interact, share and use knowledge.

While still in its infancy, the agricultural innovation system in Australia is facing a number of challenges:

  1. Lack of understanding of exactly what the Australian Agricultural Innovation ecosystem is and who the players are in it.
  2. Low levels of cross- organisation, cross-sector, cross-country collaboration and trust
  1. The innovation culture in Australia is hindered by its relatively low risk and failure tolerance
  2. Historically, Australian innovation does not generally target international markets. Instead, the focus has primarily been on the Australian market.
  3. Australia is ranked the lowest of all OECD countries on collaboration between industry and research.

The good news is that the work is happening. The last two years have seen the preparation phase for the development of agricultural innovation in Australia. This has involved a range of preparatory activities aimed at identifying the parameters of the agricultural industry’s investments and government’s policy response. It has also included a range of investments aimed at developing the core capacities and capabilities of industries and governments to address.

In 2018, the ​2030 Industry Roadmap​ was developed by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) in conjunction with key industry stakeholders. Consultation was facilitated and occurred with leaders across the agricultural value chain including researchers, farmers, agribusinesses, educators, the community and government. This document now becomes the yardstick by which the Australian agricultural industry will measure their success, and hold themselves to account. The NFF led a 6-month consultation effort to inform the Roadmap. It began with a Discussion Paper which distilled insight from leading experts, before commencing a nationwide roadshow, where they spoke to over 380 farmers and other industry experts to field their views. The 2030 Roadmap carries the full endorsement of the NFF’s member organisations, who reviewed and provided input on this plan throughout its development.

In March 2019, the ​Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources commissioned Ernest and Young to develop a shared vision for the future of the Australian agricultural innovation system. The comprehensive report, ​‘Agricultural Innovation — A National Approach to Grow Australia’s Future’​, outlines a future where there is an opportunity for Australian agricultural innovation to modernise and achieve greater and more diverse outcomes from investment in innovation, to adopt a more coordinated approach to respond to future opportunities, threats and trends, and to better position Australia as a globally relevant agricultural innovation system.

The global agritech market is growing (US$19.8Bn in 2019), but Australia’s share of the pie remains small (US$90M in 2019). Now is the time for action in the Australian agricultural innovation ecosystem. In 2020, we are starting to see the Australian agricultural industry and government consider and implement a number of options identified during the preparation and planning phase, as highlighted in the reports above.

We’ve seen the birth of the ​EvokeAg​ agrifood tech conference, ​QLD Agtech Month​,Tenacious Ventures​, Australia’s first dedicated agri-foodtech Venture Capital firm, the formation of the Australian Agritech Association​, Agritech hubs, incubators and accelerators are popping up all over the country; ​Muru D​, ​SproutX​, F​armers2Founders​, ​AgFrontier​, ​UNE Smart Region Incubator, ​Rocket Seeder​ to name just a few, as well as the Australian AgTech community coming together via virtual, Australia-wide AgTech Meetups and Slack Channel.

Only by working together will the agriculture industry solve complex problems, accelerate progress, avoid duplications and create a vibrant, connected & more prosperous future for the Australian agri-food tech sector.

There is definitely movement at the station in terms of Agricultural Innovation in Australia, watch this space world.

 

About the Contributor:
Jessica Fealy farms with her husband and four children at Blue Sky Produce, a family owned  mango, lime and avocado orchard located in Mareeba, Far North Queensland.
Jess is an experienced Chartered Accountant and Community Engagement practitioner and is the founder of Back Paddock Business, which provides business and communications support to rural enterprises. She is a Board Director with Northern Gulf Resource Management Group and also sits on the Agrifutures Australia Advisory Panel, and the Regional Economies Centre of Excellence Advisory Panel.  Jess is the co-founder of the Future Agro Challenge Australia and the QLD Agtech Cluster and has extensive experience working in the regional startup and innovation space.

Carla Tanas – FAC Global Impact Maker Interview

FAC Create:

We mobilize local communities to create agro innovation hubs globally

FAC Collaborate:

We facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources to achieve a bigger goal

FAC Cultivate:

We support you so that you can make a positive impact in the world

 

Carla Tanas established the Future Agro Challenge as a result of being a citizen of the world, having lived in three continents including the US, Middle East and Europe.  As a creative person, Carla believes deeply in human nature and has been working systematically for the last 10 years for a creative upheaval, a change of mentality in the world as a tool of social, cultural and of course economic development through knowledge.  She is also the co-founder of Industry Disruptors-Game Changers (ID-GC), a non-profit organization that started – amid the crisis in Greece – the democratization of entrepreneurship in the country, helping young people to follow their dreams and ideas, to escape from stereotypes and fears and become industry disruptors and game changers in their field.

The impetus and drive behind Carla’s passion to ‘revoultionize the world’s menu’, came in 2015 when she became a mother. It was then that Carla decided to focus, through Industry Disruptors, on one of the biggest problems on our planet, which is that by 2050 we will not be able to feed more than 9 billion people in a healthy and sustainable way.  Assessing that agriculture could be a sustainable source of growth and economic development for Greece, Carla took a systems-wide approach and thought about the impact on the whole network of people in the industry if the gaps were examined and new resources  created.  She knew that for this work to be done, agripreneurs needed to be brought to the frontlines.

This is how the Future Agro Challenge was born, a global platform that focuses on innovation from farm to fork by integrating all cultures to fix the complex food system, and empowering farmers as the caretakers of the earth. FAC now has presence in 64 countries on all five continents.   The organisation builds a dialogue and acts as a convener to find the best revolutionary and feasible solutions that can be held up high for the world to see there are other ways.  These solutions are brought forward to industry experts, policy makers, private sector, and media to help shape the complex global food chain system.

Carla is an agripreneur ecosystem builder and she believes this is a role that is driven by passion and a way to make sense of the world through a constructive approach with a positive impact.  It is a lens to see how the world works, and how you could improve it.  As a result of living in Greece, Carla is able to breathe in the ancient philosophies and connect them with innovation, making the process instinctual and the possibilities for solutions endless.

However, what is challenging for Carla is that an eco-system builder is such a new “profession” (if that is what you could call it) and the process of undertaking this sort of work needs long term vision.  The difficulties Carla can see are the ways global society is composed of, and assessed by immediate goals, economic growth and job creation.  In contrast, ecosystem building is measured in valuable connections created and innovative designs of how people could connect, which is difficult to measure.  Eco-system building has a long lasting positive impact, but very few are aware of what this is.

Carla believes that the Future Agro Challenge provides an integral solution for the global food community.  FAC is fundamentally about building trust, listening to the farmers as a knowledgeable asset, and designing new possibilities for feeding the world.

One of the most important lessons Carla has learned about agripreneurs and aginnovation is that most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG goals) for 2030 could be met if we focused in and supported our agripreneurs, impact makers, and aginnovation.  She advocates agriculture is the source of our being and understanding our soils and natural ecosystem is the integration between self, environment and society.  This is also fundamental to our education system, which Carla believes has been left behind.

Carla’s achievements are many and she is currently wearing more than one hat as she splits her days between different professions, all of which integrate well together. One of Carla’s greatest contributions is that since December 2019, she has been called upon to become the Dean of the Institute at ACS Athens, a premiere school empowering individuals to transform the world as architects of their own learning.  In this role, Carla has been given the opportunity to identify the gaps at international schools and create new resources in the realm of K-12 education to build bridges, increase transfer of knowledge and integrate global perspective.

 

We asked Carla to leave us with some final words to ponder, here is what she shared:

“If what we eat is our vote for the food chain system we want, then it really is up to us to change the food system.  “Revolutionising the World’s Menu” can only be achieved when all countries come together to make this change.”

 

Thank you Carla, you sure are an inspiration to all in the global FAC community!

 

Name: Carla Tanas
Country: Greece
Organisation: Co-founder and CEO Future Agro Challenge
Website: https://facagro.com/

 

Social Media Links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/carla-tanas-79396b/

https://twitter.com/TanasCarla

https://www.facebook.com/FutureAgroChallenge

A GROWING AGRIBUSINESS ECOSYSTEM IN PERU

If Peru has proven to be the leading country within LATAM in economic growth over the past 20 years, it has been partly thanks to the development of the agrifood sector. Agriculture in Peru accounts for 5.4% of GDP and employs 4 million Peruvians (24.2% of the PEA). Key indicators of this growth are that over the past decade, this sector has grown at an average annual rate of 3.2%, while agricultural exports increased from just US$119 million in 1990 to just over US$6 billion in 2019.

This surprising growth in agricultural exports was accompanied by a rapid diversification of the product range. In 2002, Peru exported 470 agricultural products; by 2019, the number had increased to 640, figures that also reflect the successful penetration of Peruvian exporters into a large number of new markets. Peru is a world leader in exports of asparagus, avocado, artichoke, mango, blueberries and table grapes.

Precisely because of being one of the world’s leading suppliers of these foods, it makes the agrifood sector particularly hit by the situation of COVID-19, for example, the avocado exporting campaign, which is at full start, has been affected by the restriction of mobilization of personnel for harvests and packaging plants, while the asparagus export campaign is affected by being its logistics chain mostly by air transport. Overall, what has been seen in recent weeks is that agricultural exports receded by between 25% and 28% from the start of quarantine to the last weeks of April, exacerbated by the decline in demand for products from Europe and the US. However, the current situation presents important challenges to seek solutions, for which there is a space to enhance the link between companies and entrepreneurs. As a starting point, there is an important space for the digitization and automation of field and industry work.

In Peru an interesting agtech ecosystem is developing, we can find a large number of startups that offer solutions, mainly to improve the production system, either from information obtained by remote sensors (satellites, aircraft, drones), big data, automation, always looking for greater efficiency in the use of resources, generating savings and lower environmental impacts. There is also the presence of an accelerator focused solely on agtech, as well as at least three incubators with this vertical as the main focus, in addition to an industry-focused venture builder (Investa VB). Naturally, Peruvian investment and seed capital funds also focus on the agrifood sector, due to their relevance of the sector in the Peruvian business fabric, however, in general investment funds for startups have not yet managed to achieve development in the country. From the government, Innovate Peru and Concytec have been supporting not only multiple industry-related ventures but micro, small, medium and large enterprises. Moreover, it is the second source of employment in the country, and 96% of this employment is informal.

This work that is done as a country, which work may be improved. Job creation and improvement of conditions and productivity can be exponentially enhanced with innovation and technologies that support food security, enhance sustainable use of biodiversity, increase productivity, improve mitigation of field/city migration, etc. We should not think of innovation as an exclusive tool for large companies, but rather a business tool that helps transform micro-entrepreneurs into small, medium-sized, etc. This process of transformation has not historically occurred in Peru and is one of the outstanding debts we have with society.

It is known that countries that grow sustainably in the long term, do so because of productivity increases, and this is growing, among other factors, by greater R&D. This thinking, while recognized, is not yet reflected in the political structure of the country, institutional reforms are needed to allow for a greater public budget for R&D, as well as, better conditions that encourage greater business spending, all this involves stronger policies. Specifically, in the agrifood sector, there is a debt outstanding from the government, the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA), requires a modernization approach, greater human resource, but above all a better company-research connection of the state. The research in the last 40 years, although it has had an impact on the small producer of potatoes, beans, maize among others, has not been the case with agro-export products. If in 20 years it could as a country multiply agro-exports by 50, can you imagine how much more could it be if the INIA accompanied this development? Well, this role can now be filled by researchers and entrepreneurs.

While progress is made in re-creating the production phase in the field, it remains to be explored, and disruptive, in the food or energy market, for example seeking to modify the sources of protein supply, replacing the animals with plant proteins of similar characteristics. Some efforts begin to appear, one of the examples is the creation of an innovation hub made up of several universities and many important players in the productive and food industry in the market. Peru is not only a country with a millennial tradition thanks to the Incas Empire, but in terms of biodiversity aspects, it is among the 10 most diverse countries on Earth, making it a “megadiverse country”, whether for its diversity of ecosystems, species or genetic resources. In conclusion, while the Peruvian agrifood sector faces great challenges, not only because of the dimension involved, but also because of the times available to solve them, it can be said that there is room for optimism.

 

About the Contributor

Investa VB,  leading the Future Agro Challenge Peru, is an innovation agency with integrated services 360 Multidirectional Open Innovation between companies, startups and technology generation centers. Investa VB provides organizational culture conversion services to Innovation design of innovation conversion strategies into value company education in innovation and enlistment of Startups and Spinoffs

 

 

 

Agronegocios: Ecosistema en crecimiento en Perú

Si el Perú ha demostrado ser el país líder dentro de LATAM en crecimiento económico en los últimos 20 años, ha sido en parte gracias al desarrollo del sector agrifood.  La agricultura en el Perú representa el 5.4% del PBI y emplea a 4 millones de peruanos (24.2% de la PEA). Indicadores claves de este crecimiento son que a lo largo de la presente década, este sector ha crecido a una tasa promedio anual de 3.2%, mientras que las exportaciones agrarias pasaron de sólo US$ 119 millones en 1990 a poco más de US$ 6,000 millones en el 2019.

Este sorprendente crecimiento de las exportaciones agrícolas estuvo acompañado de una rápida diversificación del rango de productos.  En el 2002, el Perú exportó 470 productos agrícolas; para el 2019, el número había aumentado a 640, cifras que además reflejan la exitosa penetración de exportadores peruanos en un gran número de nuevos mercados.  Perú es líder mundial en exportaciones de espárrago, palta, alcachofa, mango, arandano y uva de mesa.

Justamente por el hecho de ser uno de los principales proveedores mundiales de estos alimentos, hace que el sector agrifood este particularmente golpeado por la situación del COVID-19, por ejemplo la campaña exportadoras de paltas, que esta en pleno inicio, se ha visto afectada ante la restricción de movilización de personal para cosecha y plantas de empaque, mientras que la campaña exportadora de espárragos se encuentra afectada por ser su cadena logística mayoritariamente por transporte aéreo.  En general, lo que se ha visto en las últimas semanas es que las exportaciones agrícolas retrocedieron entre 25% y 28% desde el inicio de la cuarentena hasta las últimas semanas de abril, agudizado por el retroceso de la demanda de productos de Europa y EEUU.  Sin embargo, la situación actual presenta importantes desafíos para buscar soluciones, para lo cual hay un espacio para potenciar la vinculación entre las empresas y los emprendedores.  Como punto de inicio, se da un importante espacio para la digitalización y automatización de labores de campo e industria.

En el Perú se va desarrollando un interesante ecosistema agtech, podemos encontrar un gran número de startups que ofrecen soluciones, principalmente para mejorar el sistema productivo, ya sea a partir de información obtenida por sensores remotos (satélites, aviones, drones), big data, automatización, buscando siempre una mayor eficiencia en el uso de los recursos, generando ahorros y menores impactos ambientales.  También se tiene la presencia de una aceleradora enfocada únicamente en agtech, así como al menos tres incubadoras con esta vertical como foco principal, además de una venture builder enfocada en el sector (Investa VB).  De manera natural, los fondos de inversión y capital semilla peruanos también se enfocan en el sector agrifood, debido a su relevancia del sector en el tejido empresarial peruano, sin embargo, en general los fondos de inversión para startups aún no han logrado alcanzar un desarrollo en el país. Desde el gobierno, Innovate Perú y Concytec vienen apoyando no sólo a múltiples emprendimientos relacionados con la industria sino a micro, pequeñas, medianas y grandes empresas. Más aún al ser la segunda fuente de empleo en el país, y siendo el 96% de este empleo, informal.

Esta es una labor que se tiene como país, labor que puede mejorarse. La creación de empleo y mejora de las condiciones y de la productividad puede ser potenciada exponencialmente con innovación y tecnologías que apoyen en seguridad alimentaria, potenciamiento el uso sostenible de la biodiviversidad, incremento de productividad, mitigación de la migración campo/ciudad, etc. No debemos pensar en la innovación como herramienta exclusiva de grandes empresas sino en una herramienta empresarial que ayude a transformar a los microempresarios en pequeños, a pequeños, en medianos etc. Este proceso de transformación no se ha dado históricamente en el Perú y es una de las deudas pendientes que tenemos con la sociedad.

Es sabido que los países que crecen sosteniblemente en el largo plazo, lo hacen por los incrementos de productividad, y esta crece, entre otros factores, por una mayor I+D+i.  Este pensamiento, si bien es reconocido, aún no tiene un reflejo en la estructura política del país, son necesarias reformas institucionales que permitan un mayor presupuesto público para la I+D+i, así como mejores condiciones que animen a un mayor gasto de las empresas, todo esto pasa por establecer políticas más contundentes.  Específicamente en el sector agrifood, existe una deuda pendiente desde el gobierno, el Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agraria (INIA), requiere de modernización, enfoque, mayor recurso humano, pero sobre todo una mejor conexión empresa-investigación del estado.  Lo investigado en los últimos 40 años si bien ha tenido un impacto en el pequeño productor de papas, menestras, maíz entre otros, no ha sido así con los productos de agroexportación.  Si en 20 años se pudo como país multiplicar por 50 las agroexportaciones, se imaginan por cuánto más pudo ser si el INIA acompañaba este desarrollo? Bueno, este rol ahora lo pueden suplir los investigadores y emprendedores.

Si bien se avanza en revolucinar la fase productiva en campo, aún queda por explorar, y ser disruptivos, en mercado de alimentos o de energías, por ejemplo buscando modificar las fuentes de provisión de proteínas, sustituyendo las animales por proteínas vegetales de características similares.  Algunos esfuerzos empiezan a aparecer,  uno de los ejemplos es la creación de un Hub de innovación formado por varias universidades y muchos actores importantes de la industria productiva y alimentaria en el mercado. El Perú no sólo es un país con una tradición milenaria gracias al Imperio de los Incas, sino que en cuanto a aspectos referentes a la diversidad biológica, se encuentra entre los 10 países de mayor diversidad de la Tierra, lo que lo hace un “país megadiverso”, ya sea por su diversidad de ecosistemas, de especies o de recursos genéticos.  Como conclusión, si bien el sector agrifood peruano enfrenta grandes desafíos, no solo por la dimensión que implican, sino también por los tiempos con que se cuenta para resolverlos, se puede decir que hay lugar para el optimismo.

Escrito por Investa VB: Investa VB es una agencia de innovación con servicios integrados 360 Innovación Abierta multidireccional entre compañías, startups y centros de generación de tecnología. Brinda servicios de conversión de cultura organizacional hacia la Innovación diseño de estrategias de conversión de la innovación en valor empresa educación en innovación y alistamiento de Startups y Spinoffs

In the Face of a Pandemic: The AgriFood Ecosystem in South Africa

Never before have policymakers been faced with the complex conundrum of balancing between saving the lives of thousands of South Africans and the complete devastation of their livelihoods. Yet, here we are in the 8th week of lockdown and over 15, 000 people infected with the novel Coronavirus, with grim prospects of an increasing number of infections and fatalities, as well as an economy projected to shrink to the tune of at least 5% in this fiscal year.

All aspects of our lives have been impacted in one way or the other by the Coronavirus scourge. The agrifood ecosystem is no different. It goes without saying that in any pandemic, the provision of food is of paramount importance, right alongside the provision of health care. Governments have made attempts to disrupt the ecosystem as little as possible in their efforts to flatten the curve of infections and manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

South Africa’s local food system

South Africa sits in the fortunate position of having a world-class national food system, thus is largely self-sufficient in terms of food production, and will in all likelihood remain so in this pandemic and beyond. While highly productive, the food system is characterized by high levels of concentration, with 96% of farming units (Census 2011) falling in the SMME category as per the Department of Trade and Industry’s definition (agricultural operations with a turnover of R35 million and below). This positions South Africa as a nation of relatively small-scale family farms, with over 3 million farming units considered subsistence in nature.

Although it isn’t necessarily production that has been negatively impacted by Covid-19, farmers have and still do experience the repercussions of the pandemic. This is the experience reported by Mbali Nwoko of Green Terrace (PTY) Ltd, who notes that “At the start of the lockdown, Market Agents from Fresh Produce Markets across South Africa confirmed a reduction in sales and market activity because of restrictions in movement.” This is compounded by the sudden and total closure of the hospitality industry.  She shares the sentiment that this, as well as closure of restaurants and school feeding programmes, has resulted in a marked reduction in demand for produce.

The ensuing price pressures and oversupply of produce will put farmers’ financial situation in a precarious position, risking discontinuation of operations due to questionable financial viability. This may be exacerbated by other factors including a decline in the economy thus reducing buying power, difficulty accessing farming inputs due to logistics challenges, as well as potential Coronavirus infection of essential staff on farms.

 

An opportunity in the making

Despite the uncertainty that has been created by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are some positive takeaways for the agrifood ecosystem. Coenraad Fraenkel of Agrimotion Consulting shares that it is in this time where introspection is necessary so that producers can build resilience into their operations to be prepared not just for pandemics, but also other shocks since we never know when natural disasters will strike. Starting from the choice of produce we invest in, that can be tolerant to our climate, efficient with the natural resources at hand and strategic in terms of international markets.

Coenraad shares a story of his childhood in a history class where he was in a group that needed to outline the positive effects of war. It was in his distress at this oxymoron that he realised that it is in times of crisis when we learn to be resilient. That when we are not pushed, we become complacent with systems that work, but are inherently broken. He shares that this is an opportunity for us to leverage our strength as a country and continent, and secure a better future for the agrifood ecosystem going forward.

 

In relation to global food systems

It is perhaps South Africa’s participation in the global agrifood ecosystems that has experienced a more marked impact, ironically both positive and negative. Most notably as a direct result of the system’s reliance on the logistics sector, which has been extremely hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Africa is a net exporter of agricultural produce to the tune of close to R80 billion. The highest earner among all agrifood exports is citrus, making South Africa the second largest exporter of citrus after Spain. Driving through Marble Hall and Groblersdal, in the South of the Limpopo province, one can see even in the midst of Level 4 lockdown, hundreds of farm workers tending to orchards in peak harvesting and exporting season.

According to the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa reported in the May 8 issue of Farmer’s Weekly, there has been an incredible increase in global demand for South Africa’s citrus, with double the amount of lemons shipped compared to the same period in 2019. Besides increased demand due to health benefits, this is partly due labour challenges experienced by major producers such as Spain and Italy as a result of travel restrictions in the face of an enormous infection and fatality burden in both countries.

On the other hand, South Africa is also an important exporter of wine. Although export restrictions have been lifted in Level 4 lockdown, the risk of loss of market share in global markets, as well as, local restrictions in the sale of alcohol remain a concern for the sector. Other “non-essential” agri produce like wool, cotton and hides have experienced similar challenges.

 

The role of agritech in the pandemic

Of course the impact of Covid-19 on primary production as the main driver of the agrifood ecosystem, will invariably have follow-on effects on innovation and technology in the sector. Most notable in more developed countries, is an apparent over-reliance on migrant farm labour, which has posed a significant risk for producers, who now suddenly find themselves without the necessary means to tend to fields and harvest.

This has brought into sharp focus the need for in-field robotics and farm automation at a far greater pace than was previously necessary.

South Africa being a net importer of agritech, will invariably be affected by global trends in technology adoption. However, unlike more developed countries, South Africa has an abundant local labour force. Firms such as Agrimotion Consulting believe that solutions must be customised to our context such that alongside bringing efficiencies and building resilience in production, producers are also able to meet their obligation and desire to provide much needed employment for the masses.

This nuanced approach, plus building relationships of trust with producers, has resolved challenges with agritech adoption among clients, helping them recognise potential they themselves didn’t know they have and realising the incredible opportunities that are inherent in highly labour intensive, and globally strategic sectors such as citrus.

The Coronavirus has fast tracked local agritech innovations as well. During lock-down, restrictions on public gatherings have meant that livestock auctions and fruit markets now have a limited number of buyers who can attend. According to Russel Luck, CEO of SwiftVEE, “One of the major ways to remediate this is by using online channels to enable buyers to participate remotely, where real-time internet auctions allow buyers situated anywhere in South Africa (or abroad) to bid for and buy livestock or fruit without breaching restrictions.

SwiftVEE, which is a livestock online auction and sales platform, has seen an incredible surge in uptake since the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa. They grew from 12 auctions in Q1 2020, to bookings of 160 auctions for Q2. Russel added that “buyers and sellers have been forced into the digital world due to COVID, but having experienced the benefits of technology they are bound to continue transacting digitally in the future. All business sectors will continue to migrate towards digital channels. The global Pandemic has merely accelerated this opportunity by 10 – 15 years.”

 

Innovation support and investment

The Covid-19 pandemic is a real opportunity for ecosystem developers and investors to adopt more proactive approaches by focusing on innovations that enhance several areas of concern in food systems, including production of more nutritious foods, improved inclusivity, more sustainable use of natural resources, increased economic efficiency and enhanced incomes for smallholder family farms.

This will not only serve to leapfrog agrifood into the next industrial revolution, but will also support the poverty alleviation and global food security aspirations of the agrifood ecosystem. Moreover, these approaches will ensure more resilient and sustainable operations, meaning that assets will be more prepared and secure against inevitable global shocks including climate change.

In South Africa, several financing measures have been put in place to shore up agribusinesses in these difficult times. These include government funding schemes for smallholder farmers, philanthropic interventions, bank guarantees, unemployment insurance, and tax relief measures.

Where we must be vigilant is to not over-focus on protecting businesses that are bucking under the pressure, at the expense of supporting and investing in new businesses that are innovating and bucking the status quo. What is clear is that financing and investment models need to be more “flexible” in Mbali’s words, to help agripreneurs not only swim in these choppy waters, but also ride the wave of the new normal.

 

In the end…

There is no doubt that Covid-19 will leave an indelible mark on how industries operate. Agriculture and food production are not in the least immune. What is obvious is that in a world where industries are defined as either essential or non-essential, AgriFood sits right at the top among the most essential of them all, beyond the function of feeding the population.  It is no longer business as usual, and Coenraad reminds us that in all this, we must never forget to remain compassionate and bring humanity back into innovation.

My take is that South Africa, even with the many challenges plaguing food value chains, has struck a nice balance with a locally oriented food system coupled with significant participation in the global food system, or what is now referred to as a “glocal” approach. Many other countries will need to seriously evaluate their balance in this area sooner than later, if they are to remain food secure in all manner of global shocks.

On a side note: Business Insider South Africa reports that Pineapple sales have doubled between March 2020 and April 2020 and have gone up 200% in price compared to the same time in 2019. Thanks to the national lockdown, the sale and transportation of alcohol is prohibited, thus the popular Pineapple home brew has skyrocketed demand for the fruit.

It seems even when all else fails, the farmer remains once again the trusted and reliable friend.

 

 

About the Contributor

Flo Mosane, Director of Future Agro Challenge South Africa is an entrepreneur, AgriFood Ecosystem Developer, investor, and an International Premier Partner for Stone Creek Global.

Photo courtesy of Coenraad Fraenkel: CEO Agrimotion Consulting – South Africa

Feeding a Billion – Food Security of India is at the Edge

COVID19 has created a huge challenge to an already fragile agricultural sector in India

India is the world’s second-most populous country with a population of 1.27 billion. It is the seventh-largest country in the world with an area of 3.288 million sq. km, the land area of 2.973 million sq. km.  It is a country with the highest cultivated area in the world with an area of 1.797 million sq. km under cultivation.

Agriculture along with allied sectors is the largest source of livelihoods in India with nearly 70% of its rural households still dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihood.  India is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses, and jute, and ranks as the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruit, and cotton and is also one of the leading producers of spices, fish, poultry, livestock, and plantation crops.

 

Food Security and Agrarian Distress – Two Chronic ISSUES

India has done well in feeding it’s more than a billion people but the chronic issues which originated in its colonial past haunt it even today, after 70 years since becoming independent. After seven decades, food security and farmer distress remain to be two pressing challenges still unsolved.

Food Security Concerns

As defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization, ‘food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary and food preferences for an active life’.

As the Indian economy has diversified and grown, agriculture’s contribution to GDP has steadily declined from 1951 to 2019. While achieving food sufficiency in production, India still accounts for nearly 25 percent of the world’s hungry people and home to over 190 million undernourished people. India ranks 114th out of 132 countries on under-5 stunting and 120th out of 130 countries on under-5 wasting and 170th out of 185 countries on the prevalence of anemia as per the Global Nutrition Report (2016).

Agrarian Distress Concerns

The employment in the agricultural sector, which was 69% in 1981 declined to 43% percent in 2016. This means agriculture is still the major source of employment; however, its contribution to GDP is declining very rapidly and was only 15% percent in 2016 from 42% percent in 1981.  This translates to low labour productivity in this sector. Further, with 82% of farmers being small and marginal the divergence in the sector is very high with a substantial number of farmers earning less than 30% of national per capita GDP, leading to severe agrarian distress.

An important reason for low income is low productivity in the agricultural sector is due to the lack of use of suitable technology, especially in poor irrigation facilities. Agriculture, to date, is largely dependent on monsoons, failure of which leads to crop failure. Only 48% of the gross cropped area is irrigated.  Another reason for low income is the exploitation of farmers, where their purchase is limited to 3-4% of total production.  There is a gap from sales of the harvest to the consumer due to unorganized marketing.  Finally, the lack of storage and logistic infrastructure leads to severe pressure on farmers who grow perishables including fruits and vegetables.

 

How India is Feeding a Billion

India so far achieved food price stability and an adequate supply of essential food grains through the country’s Public Distribution System (PDS). While many would see this as an out-of-date socialist system of food stockpiling and subsidized prices, India has been able to feed its billions so far thanks to PDS.

India’s PDS is the largest food distribution network in the world, which supplies basic staple food to 800 million people at subsidized prices. At the same time for farmers, it provides guaranteed minimum prices. This mammoth program, with all its shortcomings, is a legacy of the socialist-inspired economic thinking that prevailed soon after independence in 1947 when the country had fewer resources.

It relies on a federal government-regulated system of procurement, logistics, storage, and distribution of food grains. The grains are procured, stored, and transported by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and allocated to states in bulk, based on need. The states then distribute the food to poor households through licensed ‘fair price’ shops. There are half a million fair price shops in India, one for about every 40 beneficiary households.

 

COVID19 – Converting ISSUES to CRISIS

India is facing a dual challenge of COVID contentment and economic constraints. With a huge population spread across the country, the measures implemented by the government have been able to limit the outbreak but have not in any way been able to control it. With close to 80,000 people infected, 2200 already dead, and daily new cases of approximately 3500 infections and around 100 deaths (as of mid-May 2020), India seems a distance from beating the curve.

 

Economics of COVID19 and Containment Measures

On the economic side of the things, India has been in one of the stringiest lockdowns for more than 50 days now.  As per most predictions, India is staring at a recession with the contraction of its GDP in 2020 and little growth expected in 2021. With close to 120 million people losing livelihood and nearly 100 million pushed to poverty, the next couple of years will be very challenging.

COVID19 and contentment measures have led to many direct problems, including but not limited to, the lack of farm labor and seasonal farm equipment.  As the harvest season began for rabi crop (one of the two major crop seasons in India), there is already a lack of transportation of harvest, especially in perishables (fruits and vegetables).  At the same time, there is a lack of demand as the market intermediaries and market places (called mandis) are shut down or are working with huge limitations due to the lack of manpower and concerns of the spread of infection.  Indirect issues which

Indirect issues, which derive from the outcome of COVID and the necessary measures to contain it, include migration of labour from one state to another (from urban areas to rural areas), the slowdown of economic activities (which has led to a reduction in demand of non-staple food commodities), and last but not the least, the lack of logistics has led to demand and supply mismatch, or in other words the break down of supply chains.

 

COVID19 Impact on Food Security and Agrarian Distress

As the farmers sell their harvests for rabi season at hugely distressed prices due to minimum demand, the masses suffer the problem of inflated prices since there is a fall in supply at the point of sales. This is a perfect recipe of dual food security and agrarian crisis. A rise in food prices is bound to have consequences, not just restricted to hunger and malnutrition, but it will also result in increased health care expenditure and a greater economic burden on the citizens leading to people falling off the poverty line. Along with the losses for the rabi season affecting nearly 20-30% of farmers (without external help from the government), many would not be able to farm in the next “kharif season,” which will lead to a cyclic reduction in demand for labour, inputs, and logistics, further leading to distress in the rural economy along with fringe challenges of reduction in economic activities.

 

What Can India Do

India needs to see COVID19 as an opportunity to solve the chronic issues faced by its agriculture. India needs to reset. We are already at the lowest point, if we continue to do business as usual we will not only miss the opportunity but will also end up hurting ourselves for the long term.

India needs to improve its management of agricultural practices on multiple fronts. Improvements in agriculture performance can be achieved in multiple ways:

  • increasing incomes of farming households by reducing the cost of cultivation,
  • diversifying production of crops, empowering low landholding farmers by consolidating landholding,
  • strengthening agricultural diversity and productivity,
  • designing careful price and subsidy policies that should encourage the production of profitable crops,
  • diversification of agricultural livelihoods through allied sectors such as animal husbandry, forestry, and fisheries
  • investment in supply chain infrastructure, including but not limited to, connectivity, storage, and distribution,
  • opening up food processing to make it viable for micro-small enterprises to take food processing units closer to farm gate hence creating opportunities for farm labour to be diverted,
  • shortening of agriculture commodity value chains to ensure the reduction of opaqueness and ensuring fair trade,
  • streamlining irrigation infrastructure and ensure water use policy to cultivate crops which do not put stress on water resources,
  • introduction of climate-resilient agriculture practices to make farmers immune to seasonal climatic vulnerabilities,
  • and most important digitization of complete upstream and downstream value chains in agriculture.

 

The AgTech Ecosystem in India – Sunshine During and Post COVID19

AgTech start-ups, 500 of them in the post-revenue stage whose number is growing at a 20-30% year-on-year basis, can offer solutions to help the Indian agriculture sector keep its food and farm supply chain rolling.  These solutions can help in making agriculture climate-resilient, can reduce losses pre and post-harvest, can make agriculture marketplaces transparent and efficient, and can help increase productivity and profitability of farmers during and post COVID19.

The vibrant and dynamic AgTech start-up ecosystem has received venture capital funding of $545 million since 2014, a large part of it $330 million came in 2019. Indian AgTech start-ups are working across both upstream and downstream from factory gate to the farm gate, within farms, and from farm gate to the fork.

Start-ups including Ninjacart, Bigbasket, Frux, ShopKirana, MeraKisan, CroFarm, and Agrowave are trying to connect farmers with buyers, including retailers, e-commerce, processors, and direct to consumers.

Start-ups including AgroStar, Dehaat, Gramophone, and FreshoKartz are trying to connect farmers with quality agri-inputs economically and efficiently.

Start-ups including CropIn, Satsure, Prakshep, Fasal, and DigiAgri are trying to digitize the agriculture ecosystem.

Other notable excellent start-ups in diversified areas are Intellolabs, Agricxlab, AgNext, Aquaconnect, Stellapps, Aarav Unmanned Systems.

 

 

Deepak Pareek, CEO & Founder – Digi Agri Technologies Pvt Ltd, a partner of the Future Agro Challenge, was a guest contributor to this article.  Deepak is a well-decorated technocrat honored as one of the Top 10 Global Finalists 2019 by Future Agro Challenge and Technology Pioneer 2018 by World Economic Forum. He is also a member of the Expert Panel of the World Economic Forum on Digital Transformation. Deepak is working on using cutting-edge technologies including Machine-Learning, Blockchain, GeoSpatial, Computer-Vision, Drones, and IoT for improving the profitability and productivity of marginal farmers on one hand and providing valuable insights to agriculture ecosystem participants on the other.

Applications Opened for Agripreneur of the Year 2020

Applications for the 2020 edition have opened for fundable and innovative ideas in food or agriculture that could secure your spot as one of the 60 finalists at the Future Agro Challenge Global Championships!

The 5th Future Agro Challenge (FAC) Global Championships will take place this year during the Global Agripreneurs Summit on the first weekend of October in Thessaloniki, Greece.  As the world’s leading competition, FAC mobilizes local communities all over the world to discover new fundable ventures addressing national, regional and global challenges.

Future Agro Challenge competition criteria:

  • Exist no longer than 5 years
  • Have an innovative or scalable business idea or model in the agrifood innovation sector (ranging anywhere from farm to fork)
  • Can transform a community, a nation, a region, or have global impact
  • Have a Minimum Viable Product
  • Your business model and customer segment are clear
  • Has received market traction
  • Proficient in the English language (or have someone to represent you)
  • Have no hesitancy to talk about their venture in public

 

The competition is open for Ideas in:

  • Food tech
  • Ag tech
  • Agroforestry and husbandry
  • Food or Beverage product or retail
  • Nutrition & health
  • Safety and health
  • Packaging and logistics
  • Agriculture education
  • Food security and sustainability
  • Agriculture tourism
  • Food Waste
  • Agriculture production and processing

 

The Global Agripreneur of the Year is awarded our Genie Package tailored to their needs at a value of 50,000euros. In addition, global outreach, access to world-class mentors, investors, potential clients, and new market opportunities and media attention, and more are offered!

 

To apply go to facagro.com/compete or click here.

Robots that get Insects to Manage Food Waste

We have to find better, more efficient ways to create a circular economy.  This isn’t just about processing the easy stuff, the clean pre-consumer wastes that are wasted.  This is about truly valorizing and utilizing actual waste streams.  These wastes have no supply chain and are a management and infrastructure issue.  If we can use these wastes to create soil fertilizers and livestock feed, or biofuels, or alternatives to plastics, then we’ve actually contributed to creating an enduring circular economy.

“I just want to farm,” states Olympia Yarger, Founder and CEO of Goterra.  I started Goterra, because I was looking for an alternative for chicken feed that wouldn’t have the price volatility of grain.  Goterra is a decentralized landfill.   We build robots that get insects to manage food waste.  We have achieved the ability to create strains of flies that are more suited to different waste streams and conditions. 

We deliver modular infrastructure that can decentralize waste management opportunities.  With Goterra, you don’t have to build big infrastructure to successfully manage meaningful quantities of waste. That means we can improve and in some cases remove logistical challenges and we can be a solution for a wider variety of clients and regions.

Our bigger goal is to manage waste streams across the world with robotic insect farms.

Have you ever tried to farm flies? !  That’s an obstacle in its own right there! The hardest part about the beginning parts of a startup is funding.  Particularly when it comes to hardware startups, that need a space and a physical presence to be a thing that can be sold.

Entering a competition like FAC is not only fun because of the event, and the people you meet, but the intimate way you get to know your own company when you have to take the time to explain it to others.  FAC is incredibly well-organized and great people adds Yarger.

 

Yarger’s motto: You are not good enough to be disappointed – Dan John US. Wrestling Coach

 

Grasshoppers for Commercial Sale

Global demand for protein is expected to double while existing protein sources are reaching their limitations. More sustainable and healthier protein sources are needed.

A wide range of innovative new protein sources is being developed: plant based, algae, cultured meat and insects. Each new solution has its pros and cons and the producers of these new sources tackle challenges ranging from taste and flavor, texture, production cost, scaling up to mass production, consumers perception, regulation and more. In Israel, a staggering number of alternative protein startups emerged over recent years in all fields and a local ecosystem of Foodtech/Agritech was formed attracting more investors, corporations and startups to join.

Alternative protein sources are forecasted to reach 33% of the protein market by the middle of this century while edible insects are expected to reach $8 billion within a decade according to Barclay’s research.

“I was born in a Kibbutz, Israel and my grandparents used to tell me stories about the 1950’s when Israel suffered from locusts swarms (locusts are grasshoppers!). They used to rush to the fields to scare the grasshoppers away while they saw Yemenite and Moroccan Jews coming to the fields to collect and eat the grasshoppers. So, I learned at a young age that for many grasshoppers are food and that they are also Kosher. Fast-forwarding 30+ years into the future, as a serial entrepreneur in food and nutrition I learned about the global protein challenge and the solution was waiting for me.  My passion is to improve the health of children and families through better nutrition and grasshoppers are the best solution you can find. Now we already know that grasshopper protein support growth of children, improve metabolism and more. And I wouldn’t replace this job with any other, shares Dror Tamir, Founder and CEO of Hargol Foodtech.”

Hargol FoodTech is the first in the world to grow grasshoppers on a commercial scale, at a higher quality to keep the quality constant.  With grasshoppers being the world’s most widely eaten insect the demand for them already exists across Asia, Africa and Central America.

However, grasshoppers are superior to other insects (and protein sources) with their superior nutrient content of over 70%  protein, neutral taste and flavor, being sustainable to grow (X20 times more efficient than beef), healthier, regulated and approved as food all over the world – All this makes them an exciting ingredient for traditional food producers and we are already engaged in joint ventures to develop, manufacture and distribute high-end products, such as sports protein powders, nutritional supplements and meat replacement products based on this unique ingredient.

We measure our success through three major parameters: production, demand and impact.

Hargol’s workplan includes targets and we measure our achievements. For example, we set a target to have at least 15% of persons of disabilities and will hit that target on Q1 2020.

As an entrepreneur, you tackle challenges day and night. Hargol’s main challenges are in regulation of new food products and changing the perception towards consumption of insects in countries where they are not common food.  We do this through joint ventures with leading food producers in order to offer food products where grasshoppers provide all its advantages.

When Hargol was established over 5 years ago almost no one understood or agreed with our vision. FoodTech and AgriTech were not highly thought of. It was almost impossible to raise funds. We had to change the perception. We did that through generation of PR globally and participation in innovation competitions. Those competitions, and winning them, changed the perception, as well as, increased the interest of investors in Hargol.

One very important aspect of developing a startup is building your network. Both FAC final event in Turkey and FAC Global Network expanded our reach.

Hargol can feed the world. Grasshoppers for thousands of year have been feeding human kind. They are mentioned in the Bible as Kosher, in the Quran as Halal and in the New Testament as food. This ancient solution can now provide a solution to a hungry world.

My greatest experience with FAC was the opportunity to meet, talk, share ideas and generate among persons that may be considered enemies.

Stop bitching – Start pitching.  Every startup and entrepreneur tackles challenges. Most of them are the same. The only way is to keep on moving. Don’t wait for others to do the job for – Do it.

 

Hargol  – 2018 Global Finalist First Runner Up

The First Insect Producer in SouthEast Europe


The way proteins are produced is unsustainable and inefficient – it harms the environment, depletes Earth’s natural resources, and cannot meet the ever-growing demand fueled by population growth.  With a growing population, dependent on proteins as a food source, Nasekomo solves this problem by producing and selling insect proteins to animal feed producers. The production of insect protein is scalable, does not require vast amounts of arable land, and does not deplete other natural resources such as wild fish or water. Furthermore, we feed our insects with agro-industry co-products, which are upscaled into valuable proteins. We are uniquely positioned as the first and currently only insect producer in the South-east European region, and plan to expand our footprint to other geographies, thus scaling through technology and science our solution and its positive impact on our environment.

The insect rearing industry is very young, and as such it has still a lot of evolving to do. In the near future all players will focus on making their production scalable and automating a lot of the processes that are very labor-intensive at present. Also, while currently all insect-rearing companies implement an integrated model, we expect this to change in the future. Today, the full process of insect-rearing – from breeding and rearing of the insects through producing the end product and delivering it to end-customers – is done by the insect-rearing companies. However, further down the line, the insect-rearing value chain will replicate those of other animal industries. At that time, different players will specialize in different activities.

After creating and exiting several successful companies, we wanted to shift our focus on building a company that will help with our planet’s sustainability challenges. We started looking into what options are out there, and finally zeroed in on insect-rearing.  We started with a few thousand larvae we ordered online, and then had to figure out how to breed them. The whole “operation” was very experimental in nature where we learned as we went along. However, only a few months after those first larvae were delivered to us, we already had in place our first demo factory and the first employees.  “I don’t consider this a job. It is something that I can do to give back to society and also help future generations. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, especially the element of discovery and continuous learning that is invariably present at any new industry, says Yana Balnikova, PMO Program Director of Naskeomo.

Our USP is our business model that focuses on supplying high value-added products, services, and licensed technology to the insect industry.  We look at success from 2 different sides: On the one hand, since we are a for-profit organization, we are looking at our financial results. Our target is to capture 1.5% of the 2030 EU total addressable market, which is currently projected at 8.5 billion euros. We have already started out toward that goal, and since April this year we are already generating revenue coming from the EU market.

On the other hand, Nasekomo is in existence because we would like to solve the food and sustainability challenges humanity faces. For this reason, we are also looking at our sustainability as a measurement for success. On a high-level, we have identified several of the United Nations Global Sustainability Goals that are relevant to us, and are working towards achieving those. On a more granular level, we have identified the relevant specific criteria we would like to measure our success in terms of sustainability, e.g. CO2 emissions, water, and land usage, fossil fuel usage. We are now in the process of establishing the methodology to measure those.

We tackle the global food challenge not only through our flagship product – the insect protein, but also through our other current products. We produce insect oil as well – again for animal feed. Insect oil is proven to be very beneficial for the health of animals, specifically piglets.  We also produce and sell a high-quality organic fertilizer, which is an excellent substitute for chemical fertilizers. The fertilizer has 6 times shorter maturation period as compared to animal manure, and is richer in nitrogen, which makes it very valuable. The insect fertilizer is not only an organic low-carbon-footprint fertilizer but it also prevents the impoverishment of soil by re-injecting in the ground various micro-elements taken for the local agricultural coproduction that we leverage (unlike “classic” NPK chemical fertilizers). Also, unlike chemical fertilizers, it does not use any fossil fuels.

We face the challenges that any startup has to face – access to human and financial capital.  In the short term, Nasekomo needs funding to scale up our production and reach industrial capacities. There is currently a funding round led by a local VC to support that growth. In the long term, we are looking for funding to realize our aggressive growth. We would like to partner with long-term oriented impact investors.

In terms of human capital, we were struggling at the beginning to find the needed experts. However, in 2019 the team has grown exponentially and reached 20+ people, including entomologists, R&D, biology, industrialization, manufacturing, IT, and agtech experts. So, we could say that we have been successful in growing our team with the right people.

On top of the above 2 challenges, we also face the lack of knowledge and/or skepticism about our industry. Insect-rearing is in its nascent years and we still have to do a lot of educating in order to convince our audience of the great potential this industry has.

And last but not least – a challenge is the lack of industrial-scale technology to facilitate our production. Due to the novelty and specificity of the industry, no equipment is available that we could simply plug into our operations. Thus, we have had to develop our own prototypes, one of which is already with a filed patent application, while 2 others are currently being installed and will allow us to increase our current production capacity by 25 times as early as January 2020.

As such, we joined the FAC Global Competition for several reasons:

  • We wanted to meet other players in the agtech environment – startups, investors, and experts, and become part of that network at an international level. FAC was the best venue that this could happen.
  • We also wanted to get an informal validation and/or feedback on our business model and future plans. The feedback and targeted questions from the FAC Global Competition judges, as well as the audience were invaluable in that respect.
  • The competition also offered ample opportunity to learn from each other and get new ideas, which was another reason we joined.
  • And last but not least, we wanted to get exposure to potential investors.

Becoming part of the FAC Global Network made us more visible in the agtech world – both to potential investors and future partners. Being recognized as one of the better solutions in the sphere also added a level of credibility to our startup. Furthermore, we definitely learned a lot and were inspired by the other startups

 

FAC Global Finalist Second Runner Up 2019

The past 30 years of agricultural productivity gains has been based on 3 things. 1) Bigger tractors and farm machinery so farmers can farm more land in one day, 2) complete reliance on pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and 3) genetically modified crops.  But more of the same won’t work – agriculture needs another revolution. Our robots make farming more efficient, and allow farmers to increase yields and to grow food more sustainably. Our technology is all about bringing new farming techniques and field practices into agriculture and putting these methods into the hands of farmers.

At SwarmFarm, we believe agricultural robotics is about to transform farming on a very steep adoption path. In 2 years’ time, most farmers will at least have seen a robot working out in a field somewhere, and in 5 years’ time, we will be at infection point where robots are commonplace on farms around the world.

Andrew Bate, who is also my husband, and I (Jocie Bate) are farmers and grow wheat, chickpea, mungbeans and sorghum. I also run beef cattle. SwarmFarm was borne out of a necessary to find more sustainable ways to produce crops. We started out by initiating a university research project to develop our first robot, and the technology grew from there. Today we are a team of 16 people and are one of the only companies, worldwide that are actually delivering autonomous robots to commercial farmers. We are very proud of our team and yes, this is my dream job!!

Our robots are a technology platform for autonomous agriculture. Our robots are used across many industries including cotton, grain, turf, orchards and even to protect the environment on mining sites. We don’t actually develop the technology that goes onboard our robots, such as the weeding tools, sprayers or mowing attachments – rather we partner with other companies and work with them to integrate their technology as “apps” on board our robots.

We are not a “one trick pony”, so rather than trying to develop every tool or attachment on board our robot, we are an open platform that is allowing farmers, agronomists and agtech developers to develop and release agtech solutions at a micro level. This means that agtech solutions are delivered at a local level to solve problems that match a particular soil type, climate or production system. Ultimately, the more “apps” or tools that are released on board our robots, the more value they offer to our farmer customers.  So far we are already delivering our robots to Australian customers and next year we will start on our first international delivery.  We hope we will be seeing our technology rolled out across the world and delivering better farming techniques and methods to farmers not only in first world nations, but also in developing nations.

Robot technology that works outside in an unstructured environment is not easy. It’s not hard to make a robot that can drive up and down a row, but to make it reliable, safe and able to work in field conditions 24/7, has taken years of work. Robots have to be reliable and tough, because farmers have to be able to rely on this technology to produce their crop, otherwise it’s just a toy. That’s why to date, we haven’t seem unmanned, autonomous robots working in agriculture.

We are also based in a rural area hundreds of kilometres from a capital city. Early on, it was hard to meet the people and connections in other tech companies, because most of them are based in cities. However, the advantage was that we fast tracked our technology development and empower our deep connections to farmers.

We joined the Future Agro Challenge Competition to meet other agtechs and build stronger networks amongst other tech companies.  I had no idea just how great the connections and friendships from FAC would be! I now have connections all over the world and insight into all sorts of other agtech companies.  I had only ever pitched once before I entered the FAC so I’m very new to this.  There is no other event, anywhere in the world that recognises  and celebrates the achievements of agtech companies like FAC.

The world belongs to those who stand up and have a go. Nothing happens by just thinking about an opportunity that you never begin.  A good friend once said to me – “you have to be standing in the way of luck if you want it to run you over!”

FAC Global Finalist First Runner Up 2019

 

Eleos Robotics’ agricultural robotics technology is helping to solve big-picture issues in the world. Did you know that we are undergoing global labor and environmental crisis? We need to increase food production by over 70% by 2050 worldwide or we will be facing food shortage even famine. How can we accomplish this while we are experiencing global farm labor shortages? On top of this, thousands worldwide are killed by chronic illness turned terminal caused by harmful herbicide poison ingested, and tens of thousands are hospitalized. In conclusion, our crisis is three-pronged. It is societal, environmental, and economical all at once.

Eleos’ solution is RoboWeeder. It is an artificially intelligent weeding killing robot that uses patent-pending precision heating technology to control weeds organically and autonomously.

The agricultural technology industry is still in infancy and for the most part made of pioneering start-ups. However, we are still seeing many narrow applications such as precision agriculture solutions and open-source robotic solutions. These are great for agriculture accept they are very difficult for farmers to adopt. The first because farmers need “hammers”, not “nails”. “Hammers” replace existing activities altogether for a similar or lesser cost, while “nails” add complexity and cost to the value chain. Robotics, in general, does better at reducing labor and automating the value chain. However, one of the problems is that most of the robots available today are open source in nature and require an extremely tech savvy and heavily resourced farmer to successfully deploy them. The technology Eleos is bringing to market is turn-key so even the most grassroots farmer can operate it with ease. In the next five years, we will see a proliferation of narrow artificial intelligence robotics technologies in everyday life and on the farm. In 5-10 years, we will see massive disruption from multi-purpose robots using strong artificial intelligence. At this point, clear industry leaders will emerge and consolidate.

Yahoel Van Essen, the Founder of Eleos Robotics is a serial technology entrepreneur. He discovered the festering labor problems in viticulture through family connections and has always been somewhat of an activist contrary to pesticide use and the development of genetically modified crops. Therefore, Yahoel’s understanding of emerging technologies, pesticides, and farm labor issues all combined resulting in the RoboWeeder.

Eleos Robotics uses precision heating technology to remove weeds. This unique technology precisely removes weeds by destroying their cells, dehydrating them, and by creating a lethal thermal shock. This prevents weeds from re-growing, thins the seed bank over time, gets at the roots, and is safe for the crop. The RoboWeeder is the only fully closed-loop autonomous system being developed. Eleos has been the most ambitious concerning the RoboWeeder’s level of autonomy. Furthermore, Eleos is using bleeding-edge artificial intelligence technology, some of which may qualify for patents. It is also the smallest weeding machine being developed. In conclusion, the RoboWeeder is looking to be the world’s most disruptive technology to herbicides on earth, and it is patent-pending worldwide.

“We are a for-profit company, and therefore, we need to maximize shareholder wealth, while being socially responsible. But, agricultural robotics is capital intensive. Hitting research and venture development milestones requires cash infusion. Moreover, when you are developing bleeding-edge technology, you are likely going to experience failure. The stakes are high in an agricultural robotics venture. That is why few attempts to build one. Finally, finding and retaining a reliable, talented team is difficult. You need to find developers and partners who forgo security and welcome uncertainty in the name of your cause.” Yahoel, Eleos’ founder has had to endure numerous disappointments as treasured team members have come and gone over the years.

Naio Technologies out of Toulouse, France, and Advanced Intelligence Systems (AIS) (a Vancouver local role model) has been a huge inspiration for Eleos. Naio, in particular, is one of the first pioneers in the agricultural robotics space to commercialize their robotics and they seem to remain innovative as they grow. Moreover, they work with vineyards and it is interesting to see how different minds and cultures approach farm automation. Finally, AIS is the only agricultural robotics company in Canada to successfully commercialize. They developed “BigTop” for manipulating pots autonomously in nurseries. Their founders and management have also supported Eleos’ founder Yahoel with encouragement and advice over the years.

Eleos wanted to prove to its customers, investors, team, and stakeholders that they are one of the top agriculture technology start-ups in the world because they believe it. So, they took on the challenge to join the FAC Global Competition, successfully taking Global Finalist First Runner Up against the best start-ups in the sector was humbling. Eleos can say “we are one of the best” with conviction. Furthermore, Eleos wanted to connect with the best start-up ventures to explore potential partnerships. Funding opportunities are always a possibility as well. However, we have already successfully raised the funds we need to finish development on the RoboWeeder.  “Being part of the FAC Global Network has put us in discussion with some of the best FAC start-ups for potential partnerships of which Eleos would take the lead,” states Van Essen.

RoboWeeder is currently on market and being sold fully maintained and monitored remotely to vineyards, orchards and berry farms. To support them on their journey, you can email them at info@eleosrobotics.com. 

Biome Makers Announced Agripreneur of the Year 2019

There is a wave of new biological products landing in agriculture. While at the same time, more restrictions are being placed on the use of agrochemicals, actively questioning their efficiency. Increasingly, farmers worldwide are testing new biological solutions for their soils under the promise that the products are more respectful to their soil life and will improve fertilization. The reality is that while these products seem to be more suitable, we do not accurately know the real impact in the soil’s biodiversity, which is why it is crucial to provide data-driven insights on how agriculture impacts the soil bioactivity.

Biome Makers have built the first digital platform providing a functional analysis of arable soil using the microbiome as a biomarker.  Their technology digitizes the microbial biology of the soil offering independent and user friendly data-driven insights on soil bioactivity.  Their unique datasets compile of samples worldwide from different crops and have set many alliances and partnerships in different areas. This gives them the opportunity to become the global leader in functional soil analysis.  So far more than 300 clients have benefitted from their platform and they have processed over 8,000 samples from 24 countries.

“We are facing a unique time in human history when it is being very difficult to maintain soil productivity, specially in agriculture. It is taking much resources to activate soils and compromising other vital bioactivities as carbon sequestration. We need to start understanding the soil biodynamics and our technology provides the first functional analysis of soil bioactivity by using soil microorganisms as biomarkers. We provide data driven insights on how to keep the soil active and make it productive” states Adrian Ferrero, CEO and Co-Founder of Biome Makers.

Successfully on their second startup, Adrian Ferrero and Alberto Acedo, have previously founded AC-Gen Reading Life in 2012, a profitable disruptive genetic diagnostics center that was helping doctors to better prescribe treatments for hereditary cancer using DNA Sequencing, receiving the reward “Best Spanish Entrepreneurs 2014”.  Alberto Acedo has also been recognized in the MIT Tech Review as on of the “Most Talented Innovators under 35”.

“Now we have decided to help agronomists and farmers to choose the right farming practices for their fields to secure yields, food provision, and activate our valuable soils. Soil is the most valuable asset to support life in earth. We could not be doing anything different until we help to solve this problem,” the founders mention.  “We are entrepreneurs by nature. We love taking challenges and risks. Biome Makes has been one of the main incentives to wake up to everything full of energy as it was needed to overcome all the difficulties that we found in the way.”

However, success hasn’t been so easy, talent acquisition has been one of their main challenges in growing their company.  Building an international company requires a specific way of understanding the world. They are proud that they have now achieved a rock-star team fully committed to Biome Makers.

Another relevant challenge has been to understand their customers, the farmers.  While their solution seems vital to researchers and data savvy individuals, the team had to understand the most meaningful way their customers  could use these datasets to undertake immediate action.  After interviewing more than 500 farmers, Biome Makers have found the best solution is to make suggestions to farmers of the immediate actions they could take within the report they provide.  We are working to deliver value to farmers worldwide, restore soil bioactivity, teach how to care for the microbes and ensure that we have more rewarding life, because better soil, better food, better life.

Dealing with obstacles hasn’t been a lonely journey.  Adrian and Alberto, have encountered great mentors along the way, in which they refer to as they continue to build their successful company.  In addition, their families have been great role models on maintaining the focus and perseverance.

Biome Makers joined the Future Agro Challenge Global Competition to verify that their solution would be well received in other areas, specifically about the potential added value in Africa. It has been refreshing to know their assumption holds valid. “Now we are more stimulated than ever to start developing pilots and actions in Africa.  Being part of the FAC Global Network has given us worldwide recognition and very good friends. The high level and performance of the rest of the finalists is a great incentive to keep moving fast. We are impressed with the wide recognition of this award having competed against great agritech startups” states Adrian Ferrero.

While asked what he would advise someone who wishes to pursue a startup in the agrifood sphere, Ferrero, continued to say “it is the best moment to be in agriculture. We see new technologies arriving into the market regularly and investors are very interested in this area. Make a good assessment of your idea and if you see it clear, do not be afraid to jump in.  Never stop dreaming, but turn some dreams into action. If you make a dream real, the world can change for good.”

 

In Collaboration with EIT Food

Two missions one vision, how to sustainably feed the growing population by 2050.  EIT Food, a pan-European consortium focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation in the food sector. More than 50 leading businesses, research centers and universities from 13 European countries are part of the EIT Food community.  In collaboration with Industry Disruptors’ agrifood vertical, Future Agro Challenge award two Greek agrifood startups with 15,000euros.

Startups SuSea(a company that develops natural preservatives for the greatest preservation of seafood) and FOODAKAI (an intelligent system that helps food companies identify dangers in their supply chain) won 10,000 and 5,000 euros respectively, as companies that can contribute to EIT Food’s mission for a better European nutrition system.

Joseph Gridley, Business Development Manager at EIT Food, said: “We are excited about our partners in Greece, Industry Disruptors – Game Changers, for their impressive network and the perception they have for entrepreneurship. I am also impressed by the level of startups in Greece, both for the depth of their ideas and their ability to present them. The mission of EIT food is to make the nutritional system in Europe better for people and the environment “.

Carla Tanas, Co-Founder of Future Agro Challenge, said: “The only way forward is through a multi-stakeholder approach, which translates to collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.”

FAC attends FAO International Innovation Symposium

The first International Innovation Symposium for Family Farmers was held in Rome on November 21-23, 2018.  FAC was invited to join in the global dialogue to give voice the agripreneurs in more than 60 countries committed to create a sustainable food value chain.

As noted by the Chair’s summary report:

(http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/agricultural- innovation-family-farmers-symposium/en/).

The FAO Secretariat estimates that there were over 540 participants, including 286 delegates from 92 member countries and the European Union as well as representatives of intergovernmental organizations, private sector entities, civil society organizations, academia/research organizations and producer organizations/cooperatives.

The specific objectives of the symposium were to:

  1. Serve as a global knowledge sharing and partnership platform to better understand the potential of innovation in agriculture to address the Sustainable Development Goals, with a special focus on supporting smallholder and family farmers;
  2. Increase understanding of the drivers of innovation and the main constraints;
  3. Propose processes, pathways and interventions needed to unlock the potential of innovation inagriculture and scaling up inclusive innovations;
  4. Celebrate inspiring success stories of innovation and innovators in sustainable agriculture; and,
  5. Act as a catalyst for boosting partnerships as well as public and private investments to fosterand scale up agricultural innovation.

Discussions at the Symposium suggest that there is no universal definition for agricultural innovation. To enable common understanding it is important to note the operating definition that was used: “Agricultural innovation is the process whereby individuals or organizations bring new or existing products, processes or ways of organisation into use for the first time in a specific context in order to increase effectiveness, competitiveness, resilience to shocks or environmental sustainability and thereby contribute to food security and nutrition, economic development or sustainable natural resource management”.

Interested to read more.

Real-World Blockchain Helping Agriculture Grow

Real-world blockchain technology has many people excited, and for good reason. From managing electrical grids to securing medical records, it appears there’s nothing this revolutionary technology can’t do.

Now, blockchain is popping up in the last place you’d expect: the world’s poorest farmsCoined Times spoke to Angus Keck, Chief of Staff at Australian start-up AgUnity, to find out how distributed ledger technology is changing the face of agriculture.

https://coinedtimes.com/real-world-blockchain-helping-agriculture-grow/

FAC Event at the UN Committee of Food Security

An agrifood revolution is here and the industry is fast changing. Can we create results-oriented regulations that will increase multi-stakeholder trust within the food supply chain while continuing to advance technology and innovation?

Future Agro Challenge brought trust to the epicenter of the broken food puzzle global dialogue at the UNCFS45, engaging in a multi-stakeholder panel discussion with:

  • David Davies is the founder of AgUnity a philanthropic venture that provides a smartphone and blockchain solution to improve trust and cooperation for smallholder farmers.
  • Martin Maerkl is the Senior Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Bayer, responsible for agricultural topics with a focus on rural development, food security and sustainable agriculture.
  • Brigitte Laliberté coordinates the Cocoa of Excellence Programme (CoEx) and International Cocoa Awards (ICA) and the Global Network for Cacao Genetic Resources (CacaoNet) at Bioversity International.
  • Geoff Dooley began his farming career in 1991 and today manages beef, forestry and energy crop businesses. In 2010, he put together the strategy that founded XLVets in Ireland, a professional network of 27 farm animal veterinary practices.
  • Thato Moagi is the managing director of Legae La Banareng Farms in South Africa. Legae La Banareng Farms focuses on the commercial production of grains, pastures, produce, and livestock. The company’s focus is on youth development and has a hands-on training programme for aspiring farmers.
  • Riccardo Mazzucchelli currently works on the Social Innovation Team Roma, which aims to reform export laws against Andean Parliament Member Countries (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru). He is also a professor of International Organizations and Development at Universita la Sapienza.
  • Barbara Bray is a Food Safety and Nutrition consultant, as well as the Technical Manager with Bakkavor, an international food manufacturer. A regular speaker at events on the subject of nutrition and food production, she completed a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2018 focusing on the vegetable sector and how it can focus on providing solutions to nutritional problems.

The lack of confidence that appears to be present across the breadth of the agrifood chain is exacerbated by a lack of proper information on the use of technology in breeding, food production, and distribution systems. Faced with the challenge to feed 9 billion people by 2050, this side event aimed to promote collaboration and give birth to ideas, initiatives, and proposals that contribute to a common agrifood innovation ecosystem.

Participants concluded that trust requires transparency, visibility and a seat at the table.  Trust cannot occur without dialogue, and FAC was acknowledged to bring the central focus of trust for the first time to the UNCFS as a side event.  The dialogue was focused on how we could advance innovation if trust is currently eliminated.  However, the driving force of innovation is fear which that itself lacks trust.

In conclusion, clear rules and policies could enable trust and that must be the role of the government.  All sectors have a role to play in enabling trust.  As very well stated by Catherine Stephenson, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Australia, “it is government’s role to provide a safe environment for trade to happen.”

Empowering Women in Agriculture

FAC is joining the global dialogue to advance gender equality to empower women in rural areas and agriculture. Women are the world’s most underutilized resource certainly applies to the 564 million women who are engaged in agriculture worldwide.

The UfM Secretariat in partnership with the Portuguese Republic, organised the fourth edition of the regional conference on women’s empowerment in the Euro-Mediterranean region entitled, Women build inclusive societies in the Mediterranean’ on 10-11 October in Lisbon. This edition brought together some of the most active voices on gender equality in the region.  In the presence of the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, more than 350 participants from over 30 countries including ministers, international experts and prominent actors of civil society and the private sector attended the conference, which coincided with the tenth anniversary of the UfM.  Participants discussed recent achievements, the most pressing challenges ahead, and how the UfM is working to address them.

 

The Presidents of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, inaugurated the conference, which witnessed the participation of ministers in charge of gender equality, namely Maria M. Leitão Marques (Portugal), Hala Lattouf (Jordan), Néziha Labidi (Tunisia), as well as the President of the Egyptian National Council of Women, Maya Morsy and the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid.

 

Carla Tanas, Co-Founder of FAC, was invited as a speaker to Lisbon to discuss the role of women in the agriculture innovation.

 

Did you know that closing the access gap between men and women farmers would increase agricultural productivity by 2.5-4% in developing countries, reducing the number of hungry people by up to 150 million while increasing wealth throughout the value chain. The global women’s market suffers from a $300B credit gap and unequal access to resources and assets, which equals to lost productivity

 

Participants discussed the role of men, the private sector and the media to shift stereotypes and social barriers. They explored ways to combat gender-based violence, means to empower women in rural and agricultural areas, the role of women in science, technology and innovation, and measures to invest in reproductive health. Alongside the full conference’s programme and in partnership with renowned international organisations such as UN Women, UNIDO, UNDP, the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM (PA-UfM), Science Po Paris, Konrad Adenauer, CIHEAM and the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation, a series of side events featured human-interest stories from UfM-labelled regional projects, a regional forum of women entrepreneurs and policy dialogue sessions with UfM country representatives and parliamentarians.

 

9-11.10.18: UfM Women4Mediterranean Conference.

First we must define what we all mean by “Respect” in order to address this global dialogue. Everyone is coming from a different walk of life.

 

Furthermore, two publications were presented during the conference, one of which; ‘Strengthening the role of women in rural and agricultural areas – obstacles and opportunities’ draws focus on women in rural areas, who, unless they are empowered to become more resilient, will continue to bear the brunt of climate change and inequalities that hinder our collective prosperity and development. ‘Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment’ is another publication which highlights how better use of the world’s female population can increase economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance societal wellbeing, and help ensure sustainable development.

Participants concluded the regional GDP could rise by as much as 47% over the next decade, meaning the region could benefit from an economic impact of around €490 billion annually.

The Conference was financially supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

FAC in Digital Greece

Future Agro Challenge was presented on the Keynote Stage of Digital Greece, where we organized a dynamic panel regarding AgriTech.  Stakeholders and startups talked about the opportunities that arise from this specific sector. Michalis Stangos, Co-Founder of FAC, represented FAC and spoke about the opportunities that startups have through the competition, as well as, the importance of being innovative in Agro.

Future Αgro Challenge gave a unique opportunity to 10 agritech startups, to be part of Digital Greece and live 8 days in the innovation “paradise”!

 

What is Digital Greece?

A theme park with more than 100 start-ups, “Digital Greece” was organized by the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information (VIKEPTE) in the framework of the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF). This thematic park gathers, for the first time in Greece, the whole community of start ups and occupies the entire pavilion 12, the second largest stand of the Thessaloniki International Exhibition and Congress Center (total area of ​​about 3,000 sqm).

 

“Digital Greece” operated throughout TIF (8-16 September), right next to booth 13, that of the United States which was the Honored Country of the 83rd TIF. American participation emphasized digital economy and innovation (with the participation of companies at the cutting edge of new technology world-wide, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Cisco), giving Greeks start uppers the opportunity for important contacts and networking .

In “Digital Greece”, Greek entrepreneurs presented – at no cost (since their participation was funded by the Ministry of Public Finance) – their innovative ideas, their fresh look, their products and their achievements, framed by a rich speakers program and workshops on new technologies, creative industry, cyber-security and digital skills. Within the framework of the parallel events program, discussions and exchanges of views and experiences with distinguished entrepreneurs, academics and representatives of ecosystem support organizations took place, giving priority to identifying sources of funding and contacting investors.

At the same time, in cooperation with ERT3, the national TV channel, was located set up as a radio and television studio, through which the Greek newcomers had the opportunity to reach audience around the globe, where the signal of ERT reaches.

In order to maximize the possibilities for networking and the development of partnerships between start-ups, a special train was launched to transfer startups from Athens to Thessaloniki exclusively to participants in “Digital Greece”. http://periptero12.gr/

Applications Open for the New Round

The largest global competition in agrifood innovation that discovers local agripreneurs and accelerates opportunities for them in global markets! 

 

+200 startups selected and supported

+1.9M euros awarded in cash & services

Tailor-made prizes offered worth more than 180,000EUROS VALUE

Investments of over $13.3M have been made in FAC selected finalists, as well as, investments by celebrities such as Ashton Kutchor

5 selected FAC startups have been globally highlighted as the Top 100 Agtech Companies Changing the Farm

Win the title Agripreneur of the Year

Winners have received endless media and press opportunities to communicate their idea to a global audience

 

Future Agro Challenge (FAC) is the leading global competition that discovers innovative fundable food, agtech, and agriculture ventures addressing national, regional, and global challenges, from farm to fork.  Over the past four years FAC has organized a national competition in over 60 countries across 5 continents.

 

Winners of each national competition will win return air ticket and accommodation to the FAC Global Championship to gain access to world-class mentors, investors, potential clients, and new market opportunities. The FAC Global Championships is a highlight event at the Global Agripreneurs Summit 2019.

 

 

ELIGIBLE COMPANIES
Companies across agriculture value chain
– Exist no longer than 5 years
– Innovative or scalable business idea or model
– Has initial traction or Minimum Viable Product
– Proficient in the English language

AgUnity Wins FAC Global Championships 2018

AgUnity (Australia) which increases incomes for the smallest farmers in developing countries via the use of blockchain technology gains the title Agripreneur of the Year 2018 at the Future Agro Challenge Global Championships, which took place in over 60 countries across 5 continents.

AgUnity’s win came after the battle against Hargol, world’s first grasshopper farm delivering healthier and more sustainable protein, for 1st and 2nd place.

David Davies, Co-Founder of AgUnity

Dror Tamir, Founder of Hargol

Over 1 billion small-scale farmers earn their income from Agriculture, yet up to 50% of a farmer’s crop value ‘vanishes’ between harvest and sale. Huge inefficiencies in planning, a lack of empowerment and a lack of access to proper farming resources result in poor harvests, spoilage of crops and poor prices at point of sale. Farming cooperatives are seen the most effective and equitable way to increase farmer’s incomes by overcoming these inefficiencies, however poor record keeping and a lack of transparency often results in farmers being taken advantage of through corruption and graft. AgUnity from Australia solves this by enabling trust between farmers and co-operatives by providing a smartphone and their blockchain app, AgriLedger, to farmers in the developing world, all for free. This app enables farmers to easily record all transactions in an immutable ledger between each other and their farming co-operatives, and to plan better, buy and sell together and cooperate to share resources. In their pilot projects in Kenya and Bougainville, farmer incomes increased by 3x on average from a single season to the next, all through sharing resources and buying/selling together. Farmers can understand with confidence, even if they cannot read or write, that if they hand over their crops to a co-operative, they will receive payment for these crops for exact amount they provided, and trust the AgriLedger app.

Coming in second, Hargol from Israel aims is to feed the expanding world population with more high protein food from sustainable sources at affordable prices.  As current protein sources – beef, chicken, fish – are reaching their limits, putting pressure on natural resources, and damaging the environment. Edible insects are gaining momentum as a high protein alternative that is efficient to produce, low cost, and requires minimal resources. With insects already an integral part of the diet of more than 2.5 billion people, there is a need and an opportunity for quality insect products that can be mass produced efficiently and economically.  Hargol FoodTech is the world’s first commercial grasshopper farmer. The company uses technology to grow large quantities of grasshoppers in captivity. Hargol Foodtech’s optimized methods and technology enable growing several species of grasshoppers quickly and under sanitary conditions for a reliable, sustainable, and quality protein source.  Hargol’s line of products will include grasshopper protein powder, food additives and pet food. The Hargol FoodTech difference includes: year-round production, superior nutrient content – over 72% protein, all essential amino acids, high omega-3 and 6, and innovative cage for vertical farming.

Nazli Uyanik Yildiz, Co-Founder of Nebyan Dogal

In third place, Nebyan Dogal from Turkey, solving the problem for people living in big cities to find grass-fed, traditionally raised animals’ meat like they did in the past. Livestock production is shifting to “factory farms” adopting industrial production methods. Nebyan Dogal built a business model enabling farmers to continue traditional livestock production and provide people in cities with a sustainable source of healthy, high quality meat products. They bring forward grass-fed, free-range, traditionally raised animals’ meat from Black Sea highlands to capital cities with the highest quality standards, in the form of innovative products and with high availability addressing the exact urban consumer requirements.

 

Alessandro Grampa, Founder of Hexagro Urban Farming

Coming from Italy and providing modular and scalable vertical gardens to produce healthy food in any indoor environment is Hexagro Urban Farming‘s solution who placed fourth at the Future Agro Challenge Global Competition.  Current practices to produce and distribute food globally represent one of the biggest sources of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions making indoor agriculture is a trending solution.  Current indoor farming market products are not offering a solution to produce different crops while being scalable, high yield and flexible. Indoor farming ventures tend to have problems related to operational costs and supply. Empowering people to produce their own food will bypass much of this burden. Hexagro Urban Farming is the perfect fit for people purchasing healthy food and new urban farmers who want to generate a profit from their activity.  They offer communities to be self-sufficient to grow their food needs while cultivating a local community of urban farmers.

Bringing Agripreneurs Closer to Policymakers

With the aim to bring agripreneurs to the frontline, this year the Global Agripreneurs Summit had the honor to bring forward policy makers including His Excellency Mario Arvelo, Chairperson of the Committee of the World Food Security and His Excellency Dr. Theo De Jager, President of the World Farmers Organisation.

Holding a roundtable designed to create a collaborative to give birth to proposals that could bring forward result-oriented policies for the positive advancement of agrifood innovation, with discussions that included agripreneurs from over 60 countries across 5 continents, as well as, impact makers.

The discussion aimed at providing suggestions for policies that could facilitate the education of the general public on how innovation and technology can revolutionize the food supply chain and address global food challenges.  Influential policy makers and prominent members of the global agrifood innovation community shared cases, approaches, examples, best practices and proposals on the types of motives needed to create a roadmap for positioning agricultural innovation as a national agenda.

A position paper is in the process of being created to bring forward further discussions around these matters.

 

 

Global Finalists Selected for the FAC Global Championships

The heat is on! The FAC Global Championships is the highlight event within the Global Agripreneurs Summit where the winning agripreneur from over 60 nations across 5 continents competes at an international level to be entitled the Agripreneur of the Year to receive dedicated resources to help them grow their business and expand into new markets.

The leading global competition is focused on discovering and accelerating innovative and fundable ventures addressing the entire food value chain from farm to fork.

The following finalists have been selected from around the world:

 

AGUNITY – Blockchain technology for small holder farmers from Australia

MONITORFISH – AI in fish farming for higher output from Germany

AM BREWERIES – Turning natural waste into delicious beverages from Denmark

WISRAN – Turning logistics inefficiencies into farmer profits from the USA

BITEBACK – Extracting nutrient dense oil from insects from Indonesia

ANNONA – Digitizing global supply chains for small-scale producers from Kenya

BIO NATURAL SOLUTIONS – Natural edible coating increasing shelf life by 200% from Peru

STARTCHY – 100% bioliquid coating for edible products from Lebanon

SOLIXANT – Unique microalgae strains and semi-commercial photo-bioreactors for fish feed from Russia

AGROID SAS – Increasing real-time efficiency in packaging warehouses from Colombia

L’AGRO INTELIGENCIA ARTIFICIAL – Smart pest monitoring system using cognitive computing and IoT from Brazil

HARGOL FOODTECH – World’s first grasshopper farm from Israel

H20 FARM – Accelerating the use of hydroponics in Palestine

FarmAR – AR & 3-D visualization for precise soil and crop management for farmers from Netherlands

KUCA CUVARKUCA – Veggy misfits to solve food waste from Serbia

FLTAOOS ALSRIANI CO.LTD – Alternating Myscat tree waste into paper from Sudan

ROCKY MOUNTAIN MICRO RANCH – Raising nutritious insects for food and feed from the USA

HOP – Facilitating the harvest of insects for malnutrition from Denmark

MAKHLA – Transforming dried palm leaves waste into fashionable backpacks from Tunisia

SESAME DAIRY PRODUCTS – Producing dairy products from sesame seeds from Sudan

NEBYAN DOGAL – Delivering 400 years of highland shepards’ meat to urban homes from Turkey

BAOBAB PRODUCTS MOZAMBIQUE LDA – Creating a baobab value chain to empower women in Mozambique

SYSTEMDEX (PTY) LTD – Simulating ocean conditions inland to breed and source ocean fish from South Africa

L’AMOURANTE – Vending machines for the sale of amaranth oil with 30% more squalene from Russia

AGRICOLOUS – Making precision farming accessible worldwide from Italy

KITOVU TECHNOLOGY – Soil-crop matching data supply system from Nigeria

WISECROP – Operating System for farmers to manage and predict solutions from Portugal

DBUNTU DATA – Digital record keeping for African farmers from Uganda

KRISHI TRADE –  Integrated supply chain and payment protection for farmers to sell products from India

AQUAPONICA – Alternative agriculture and aquaculture methods in Saudi Arabia

YGDRASYL PROJECT AS – Technical structure that grows food, converts green energy, and manages resources from Norway

3BEE – IoT system designed to monitor beehives providing analysis from Italy

SAM – Mobile app connect machine owners with final users of farm equipment from Paraguay

MERMIX – Marketplace that connects farmers with agricultural tools and services from Greece

IOTRACX – IOT technology for farmers to choose seeds, crops, and fertilizers from India

ECOLIFE FOODS – Making agriculture exciting for the youth to Increasing the uptake of hybrid vegetable seedlings in Uganda

HEXAGRO URBAN FARMING – Providing modular and scalable vertical gardens from Italy

PONDAPITS –  A non-toxic deodorant for personal care from Bermuda

EBEN-AGRIC – Transforming groundnuts into paste products to promote local produce in Chad

MADES GROUP – Creating innovative local products to fight child malnutrition in Niger

MORINGALA – Creating Moringa plant products to empower the Malagasy industry

Emma Weston Conducts World’s First Live Settlement via Blockchain

Emma Weston had other plans for her career, neither agriculture or technology were part of her foreseeable future. She studied law at the University of Melbourne, and worked in private practice after graduating, but quickly realized becoming a partner in a law firm didn’t feel right for her.

Her path changed with a phone call from a recruiter inquiring her interest in a role as an in-house counsel at the Australian Wheat Board (AWB).  The organization held the export monopoly for wheat, and the domestic market had been deregulated a few years earlier. The government would no longer guarantee wheat payments to farmers and it had to privatize.

After three years in the legal team at AWB, Weston moved into management and worked in various positions. This gave her an understanding of all aspects of the industry.  Weston first met her husband and business partner Bob McKay, who comes from a farming family, he managed the domestic trade division at AWB. After the complete deregulation of Australia’s wheat market, Weston joined McKay’s company Agfarm with a view to growing it from a small grain agency to a grain broker representing farmers, before moving into finance.  The company was later sold.

A few years later, the pair partnered with a former employee and farmer Ben Reid to start AgriDigital – a technology company leveraging their expertise across the whole supply chain.

Australia is a leader in blockchain – something that can be partly attributed to the Australian Securities Exchange replacing its current settlement system (CHESS) with blockchain-enabled software.

In December 2016, Weston’s company, AgriDigital, conducted the world’s first live settlement of a physical commodity via blockchain. Also known as distributed ledger or shared ledger technology, blockchain records all transactions for an asset in a new type of database that can be shared with many parties, but never changed or deleted.

Each record, or transaction, is entered into a ‘block’ and as more transactions occur, each block is chained on to the previous and subsequent blocks, forming a full and complete record. It also allows smart contracts, where the terms of the contract are recorded in computer code and able to auto-execute on the shared ledger.

Weston believes blockchain has the potential to make trade more efficient, reduce fraud and make it easier to trace food through the supply chain.

Emma Weston will join us at the Global Agripreneurs Summit 2018.  Pre-Registration is Open, seats are limited.

An Eventful Agripreneurial Year Around the Globe!

We celebrate an eventful year having mobilized over 80,000 people to  to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to reignite agriculture as a key pillar for economic growth and sustainability.  FAC events taking place around the globe across 5 continents including (USA, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, Australia), raising awareness of agrifood innovations solving local, regional and global challenges.

Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world.  Currently, 40% of the global workforce is employed by agriculture, yet the contribution of agriculture to the global economic GDP is only at 3.8%[1]

Today’s agricultural industry is on the verge of turning into a high-tech industry, as the growing number of agricultural startups and investors indicate.

Only a couple ago, it was solely the larger players that were driving a lot of innovation; there weren’t so many smaller players coming up.  Now, it’s the small emerging brands that are really driving innovation, either through renovating a tired category or for identifying white space. Gaps in the market are creating opportunites from the very local level to the global disruption.

FAC is at the global forefront of emerging trends in the agrifood sector with the aim to accelerate the agrifood ecosystem. Mobilizing local communities to discover untold solutions each nation and region brings through new perspectives, having overcome different obstacles and offering different facets of innovation.  From reaching farmers in the highlands and revolutionizing indigenous models, or enabling farmers out of blockchain through poverty, whether discovering new raw foods or creating new proteins, FAC’s wide range of discoveries creates opportunities for all stakeholders involved!

[1] Source: World Bank

FAC Mozambique is Leading Agrifood Innovation in Africa!

99% of agriculture exploration in Mozambique is made of survival production. The sector employs directly 5.7M people, which equals to around 72% of the economically active population, whilst only contributing to 25% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 16% of national export.

62% of national soil is cultivated with basic cultures for food production, whilst a minor percentage is utilized for cash crops for export.

For the past 15 years government is focuses its effort in strengthening the sector, which was almost destroyed during the period of the civil war (1975 – 1992). The main focuses for its development are (i) innovation and research, (ii) the provision of technical assistance to producers and (iii) mechanizing production and irrigation.

In light of the vast unexplored potential of the country, Future Agro Challenge has been immediately recognized by stakeholders playing along the food value chain as an opportunity to change the narrative of food production in the country. An opportunity  to motivate and inspire young people and potential entrepreneurs to look at agribusiness and biotechnology as career and business opportunities .

This global initiative was tailored to the Mozambican context, including a bootcamp for sixteen selected agri-preneurs, the final pitch battle hosted during the National agribusiness conference, a coaching program for the winners to prepare for the global final. In addition, under the flag of the Future Agro Challenge initiative the first agro-hackathon will be hosted, to gather tech geeks and agripreneurs with the aim of co-creating tech platforms to solve food value chain challenges and market inefficiencies.

The initiative attracted the interest of public, private, non-governmental organizations and universities. Above all, Gapi Sociedade de Investimento (www.gapi.co.mz), the leading Mozambican development finance institution, the African Management Service Company (AMSCO) (www.amsco.org) and Barclays Bank Mozambique (www.barclays.com) partnered with the DEV Mozambique (www.devmozambique.com), the national host organization.

The Future Agro Challenge and the National Agribusiness Conference served as a platform to gather stakeholder and turn the spotlights towards “unconventional heroes”. Agripreneurs are starting to make their way to the headlines, thanks to the valuable support of private media group, Grupo Soico, as well as the media partnership signed with Escola do Agricultor, a nation-wide corporate social investment campaign promoted by Panavideo, a media production company, and Tecap, the leading distributor for agroprocessing items and machineries. During the National Congress, invited entrepreneurs shared the inspiring stories. These including Eng. Anila Mussa, Founder of Izyshop, the first online supermarket of Mozambique, building a channel for local producers to directly access their buyers, as well as Eng. Jorge Correia, founder of Do Chefe “A Panela”, renowned meat processor breaking through the base of the pyramid. Following, a panel with representatives of leading financial institutions discussed models for funding competitive companies and strengthen the “missing middle”. The panel with directors of Barclays, Financial Sector Deepening, Gapi SI, USAID, World Bank was moderated by Dr Pietro Toigo, Country Representative of the African Development Bank.

 The event was further supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, having seen the Minister, Dr Jorge Nhambiu personally handing the awards to the winners of the competition, together with her Excellency, Ms Zeynep Kiziltan, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Mozambique.

Of the seventy applications received from all over the Country, only sixteen were selected for the final phase. The title of Agro-Entrepreneur of the year was awarded to Ms Anifa Osman, representing Baobab products Mozambique, local company processing baobab powder for fruit juice production, already exporting to the US.

Another award was created to further motivate and appreciate the effort of young agro-preneurs. The title of Young Agro-Preneur of the year went to Ms Maria da Graça Tomas, representing Mozkubwika, the mozambican company producing sweet potato and banana chips from dehidrated fruits. The awards were assigned by a highly qualified jury composed of Country Directors and General Managers of Barclays, GAIN,  Gapi SI, iDE, JFS Holding,   Ministry of Science of Science and Technology, Tecap.

Mozambique is seen by many as a true greenfield for innovation. A vast country that offers at least as many challenges as opportunities.

Aside from established international groups fostering working along the value chain of few cash crops for export, such as various beans, cashew-nuts, cotton and tobacco, a growing generation of agro-entrepreneurs is rising. They often develop and test their product while being full time employed in international organization or government offices, and wait to have proven their concept in the market before making the leap of faith to invest in their company full time. This allows many to mitigate the high cost of doing business in the country, as well as it allows the newly-born agripreneurs to strengthen their knowledge and maintain access to privileged contacts and information, in a country were social capital is one of the most important factors leading to business growth and success.

At the other end of the spectrum, financial institutions and funders struggle to provide access to their services and funds to agribusinesses due to weak business structures, high risks involved with the investment and, often, lack of historical reports which prevent due diligence processes. Blended finance models recorded the highest return on investment, proving to be an efficient way to de-risk investments and leverage resources.

Despite of the challenges of doing business in the country, many opportunities are waiting for entrepreneurial minds. Research and experience suggest that three key opportunities should be regarded and explored for the social and economic return their development can generate:

  1. i) Indigenous knowledge systems – including the development of traditional value chains, such as chicken and eggs production or processing of dehydrated and powdered fruits;
  2. ii) Innovation to reduce production costs – through accessible and affordable machineries, whether they are the re-engeneering version of traditional machineries or the introduction of break-through technology innovation such as aquaponics systems or sensors;

iii) Leapfrog solutions by scaling up problems – such as developing large scale organic production, leveraging the lack of infrastructures and established chemical industries and distribution of respective products.

Mozambique is open for business, and future agro challenge contributed to shape a network of high-potential agri-preneurs. Do you want to know more about them?

 

 

 

Contributor: Elena Gaffurini Vali, FAC Mozambique, Executive Director DEV Mozambique

 

We thank Gapi SI, Barclays, AMSCO, Tropigalia, Agua de Namaacha, Bites, Espaço de Inovação, Panavideo for their support offered to the realization of this initiative in Mozambique, and we look forward to deliver it at a bigger scale in 2018.

I thank Filipe, Frederico, Jubya and AIESEC Team for all their effort  to deliver a great event.

 

 

FAC Intervention at the FAO UN

38 MORE million people went hungry last year.  The number of hungry in the world has risen to 815 million, affecting some 11% of the world population, especially in areas of conflict.  The world is moving in the OPPOSITE direction of SDG Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. (sourced by FAO).

Future Agro Challenge attended the discussions at FAO UN this year in Rome.  FAC’s dedication to bringing agripreneurs to the front lines is the key motive to being part of this discussion. FAC’s intervention highlighted the importance of immediately bringing innovation and technology into the forefront of policy discussions around food and agriculture.

As new technologies, such as Blockchain, Robotics & AI, and Big Data, intervene into the agriculture industry the whole agrifood space will revolutionize itself in the forthcoming years.  Nobody really knows what the future holds or how soon Mars will be our new homeland.  However, there are some current and severe issues that need to be tackled with the utmost urgency.

Hunger could be addressed with the potential to reach zero hunger perhaps even prior to 2030.  Yet, the challenges remain that the current policies do not well define and measure the necessary data in which all stakeholders could use to reach the same goal.  At FAC, we hear about innovative solutions to local, regional, and global challenges everyday from over 60 countries.  But the barriers still remain that the current policies are not readily in place to support some of the new and disruptive upcoming solutions making the SDG Goal 2 almost impossible.

While hunger continues to increase mainly due to conflict and climate change, we must also address an upcoming population that may soon be jobless.  There is no doubt that 80% of the global farms are made up of small holder farmers, 40% of the global working force is in the agriculture sector.  With the right policies in place, technology could be integrated to create a positive shift in the types of daily tasks required by the farmer and agriculture workers.  We need to integrate agrifood innovation and technology in our global policy discussions today.

Unfortunately, some policies may take up to three years to be implemented.  If we do not implement the necessary changes in our discussions and goals today, how much longer will we continue to be going into the opposite direction of SDG Goal 2?

Cowlar, gets backed by actor Ashton Kutcher

The pages are turning and “agtech” is becoming the new sexy word, even in Hollywood!  Actor Ashton Kutcher takes the lead with a FAC global semi-finalist from Pakistan.  Cowlar, the smart non-invasive neck collars that monitor temperature, activity & behavior of each individual cow, has now been backed by Ashton Kutcher.  Kutcher’s team was impressed and quickly realized this would be a huge business down the road.
 
Cowlar technology is designed to help farmers optimize operations, improve herd health and boost milk yield.  You strap the cow collar (Cowlar) around a cow’s neck; it monitors temperature, activity and behavior of each cow.

Making sense of this information they provide actionable recommendations on how to (1) maximize milk yields (2) boost reproduction rates (3) identify diseases instantly (4) track geo-location

The goal is to help small dairy farmers significantly improve income on dairy farms.  Cowlar’s team is obsessed with improving the lives of millions of small dairy farmers.
 

Umer Adnan, CEO of Cowlar

Cowlar applied to the Future Agro Challenge in 2016.  Through its national competition in Pakistan, Cowlar was one of the 10 finalists invited to the Global Championships in Colombia.
 
When Umer Adnan, Founder and CEO attended Future Agro Challenge, his company was a product development and services company, with Cowlar being the product at the time.  Adnan states “FAC helped me meet some very interesting people. I remember meeting and sharing ideas with lots of people and the whole experience brought clarity to my business which ​was helpful.  Since then, we’ve decided to spin off Cowlar into a separate entity and focus completely on it.” Since 2016’s success, Cowlar moved onto attending AgLaunch and Y Combinator along with raising a $1M seed round from Ashton Kutcher amongst others (including more celebrities, such as Winkelvos twins).
 
“Working hard and focusing on creating something useful for your customers. Listen and understand the customers needs and try to bring a compelling product at a compelling price to market” was the advice Adnan chooses to share with upcoming agripreneurs.  We have an amazing and talented team who enjoys working together and creating useful features for our customers.  Our team is focused on bringing an enhanced product to market.
 
Umer Adnan has recently been blessed with a baby boy and a beautiful wife who is extremely supportive and understanding.  ​”Since the birth of our son, I have made significant changes and make a special effort to not waste any time at work (this includes giving up social media usage and prioritizing my schedule to tackle the most important problems).
 

Turkey to host Global Agripreneurs Summit 2018

Turkey has always been a land of agriculture. Historically, greater parts of the population has always been working in the agricultural industries. Today, agriculture makes around 23% of the Turkish economy, with 2.4million farmers working within 20 million hectares of space. This means that there’s roughly around 60.000 acres per farmer in the country. If we take a look in the demographics, an average Turkish farmer is aged 54 years old, while an average Turkish person is 27; this contrast in the demographics shows one of the important needs in the Turkish agricultural scene, the young farmers.

In production, wheat farming takes the biggest share, but grains generally makes up the general production of the country. This is also the reason why an agripreneur’s biggest challenge and goal in Turkey is to improve the yield in grain production; aiming more yield on 60% on grains and 40% on wheat. The rest of the production is more focused on hazelnuts, oranges, figs and apples. These products are also the key products for Turkey to compete in international agriculture market. Especially in Middle East, Black Sea and Central Asian Turkic Republics regions are the main markets for Turkish products; but also Turkey aims to compete more strongly in European markets with its agricultural produce.

Regarding the producers, Turkey’s production is sustained by small scale farmers. 69% of the producers are small scaled with only the 18% of the total farmers producing in medium and big scale as farming companies. The rest of 13% is defined as “unsustainable” and only 0,1% of the farmers are contracted to farming companies. So, there’s a gap in the production and in the producer’s financial ability. This gap also represents the outcome on the age demographic, with an average of 54 years old farmers in the country.

Turkish Government created a subsidy program in 2016 to tackle this issue, it was called “Young Farmers Projects Support Program” by the Food, Agriculture and Farming Ministry with Minister Faruk Çelik’s act.  Program aims to support young farmers aged between 18 and 40, with a goal of taking thousands of “potential young farmers” from big cities to move in to rural areas, to create an reverse immigration, while also increase Turkey’s agricultural revenue. The total budget of the project is estimated as $132 million, and expected to support 16,100 young farmers till 2018. Main goal of the program is to give $90 million from the budget to 11.000 young farmers to help them construct cattle and small ruminant farms; which 51.000 cattle and 100.000 small ruminants will be distributed directly as subsidies to the young farmers, by the government.

Considering the 69% of the farmers of Turkey are small scaled farmer, this financial gap creates a fragile agricultural economics; also opportunities for agripreneurs who are focusing on agricultural financement management projects.

 

AN OVERVIEW OF THE TURKISH AGRIPRENEUR SCENE

Turkey has a great potential with its warmer climate and geographical advantages. Climate opportunities gives Turkey ability to grow various products within its regions, as such making it possible to grow food from tropical to Mediterranean climates within short rides in the country. Therefore, for precision agriculture entrepreneurs, it’s easier to collect data around the country and provide solutions for challenges. This also gives entrepreneurs to work on better traceability within their production.

The Turkish agripreneur scene is mainly focused on precision agriculture. Speardhead projects like Doktar and Tabit are the leading force in this section of agriculture. Both are supported by telecom companies, Doktar by Turkcell and Tabit by Vodafone, working to support farmers to use precision agriculture techniques and services to increase their production and also sustain it. Difference in their approach comes with scale.

Doktar, founded in 2012 by Founder and CEO Tanzer Bilgen, mainly working within Aegean and Mediterranean coast regions, provide services of precision agriculture with a database of simulations to support the producers. Doktar also, in collaboration with designers Oki Kasaijima and Semih Özdemir, designed an agricultural sensor platform called “Koya”, which aims to provide necessary information to farmers regarding the physical condition in their filed.

Tabit, previously founded as social agriculture platform in 2004 by Tülin Akın, had a different approach on precision agriculture. Tabit, previously worked as tarimsalpazarlama.com (Agricultural Marketing) and aimed to bring together farmers digitally to empower their reach of information. In 2013, with the CEO Çoşkun Yıldırım, the company was reestablished as Tabit, to work on agricultural information technologies. After the reestablishment, in 2015 Tabit built an precision agriculture village, called Smart Village(Akıllı Köy) in the Aegean region, city of Aydın. The village, known as Kasaplar Köyü, has been equipped with sensors and drone systems to follow up on the production and also provide farmers the necessary information throughout their production. Tabit also approaches precision agriculture with aims of social impact. Project aims to create a pilot village in Kasaplar Köyü which is equipped with high-tech agriculture equipment and also educate the farmers to sustain their production to create a positive socio-economic effect. Therefore Vodafone, as part of their social impact mission, has funded Tabit with 23million Euros to support them technologically and also financially. One of the main challenges the CEO Çoşkun Yıldırım wants to tackle is also food waste due to agricultural production. Approximately 30% of the total food production in Turkey goes to waste and Tabit aims to tackle this issue, through the precision agriculture.

Regarding agro-financial entrepreneurship, Tarfin is the leading force within this section. Established in 2016, Tarfin provides financial services for producers, they aim to tackle the economical struggles of the producers for their agro-loans from banks and dealers. Tarfin provides financial management systems for producers and also working with agriculture dealers to help out the financial transactions between dealers and producers with creating traceability and follow up systems.

In a different scale, there’s also a trend for urban farming entrepreneurs in Turkey. Mimi Çiftliği (Mimi Farm) as one of the entrepreneurs, founded in 2015 by Founder and CEO Nesrin Demirer, the company works on growing microgreens within urban setting. Started in a small household in Beyoğlu District in Istanbul, Mimi Çiftliği moved their production out of the city in late 2016. Mimi Çiftliği define themselves as “urban farmers”, therefore their main focus is to use urban farming techniques as such hydroponics, in modern city setting.

 

FUTURE AGRO CHALLENGE TURKEY

Due to the high average age of the Turkish producers, there’s a great deal of potential for young farmers in Turkey. Agripreneurs who are equipped with agritech knowledge and adaptable projects, quite possibly find great source of potential within the Turkish agricultural scene. Financial gaps within the producers also creates great potential for the financial management projects, and aiming at young generation of farmers who are familiar with platform technologies and eager to learn precision techniques, quite possibly end up as the next generation of super farmers.

Super farmers of Turkey will be created by empowering the agripreneurs within the country. Future Agro Challenge Turkey’s goal is to empower these agripreneurs to create platforms for potential young farmers and potential agripreneurs and to raise awareness for a sustainable future for food production. Tackling food waste could become one of the main challenges for Turkey but also crafted food production, as a quote from Tanzer Bilgen, CEO of Doktar, figuring out the “mathematics of flavour” would be the key for establishing a position in global competition for Turkey. Yield would still be an issue for older generation of farmers but within the younger generation, taste and precision would be the key issue for better production. Therefore, Turkey’s agricultural scene would prosper with the young farmers and international agripreneurs approaching for collaboration with the young entrepreneurs.

Future of food will be sustained by food entrepreneurs, therefore Future Agro Challenge Turkey’s mission will be empower the agripreneurs to create the next generation of super farmers.

 

Author: Semi Hakim, Co-Founder at Kok Projekt

Doors Open for Cassava Food Enhancer!

Cassava Food Enhancer has been recognized internationally through the Future Agro Challenege, making it the current winner of the most innovative venture in Paraguay by the government through its institutions, such as Conacyt and Focem.  The patented and proven technology has developed the extraction of proteins, carbohydrates, fibers and all the nutrients of the waste of the starch industry in Paraguay, making it the first national innovation of an alimentary waste to create a new super food, nutrient based with some of its characteristics to be gluten free.

Since attending the Global Agripreneurs Summit in March 2017, many new doors were opened for the Cassava Food Enhancer project including partnership opportunities with some existing companies related to the food industry in France and Africa.  Further discussions on their business model are to be finalised in Tanzania and South Africa.

After returning from the Global Agripreneurs Summit, Cassava Food Enhancer posed for a national innovation contest and were selected from more than 250 national projects to receive the National Innovation Award.  Jorge Leal, founder of Cassava Food Enhancer, states, “having come from the Future Agro Challenge Global Championships in Johannesburg was of interest to the international jury, which placed us as winners giving us seed capital of US $20,000 that we are investing in developing and doing health analysis for the world food industry.”

With serious discussions with a group of investors from Mexico, Cassava Food Enhancer may soon be able to be exported and distributed, at an estimated price of US $130 per ton, as a nutrient-rich food to countries that have serious problems of child malnutrition, which could in turn reduce undernutrition rates.

Having gone from just a project to becoming a business reality, Leal states, “yes, you can, if you have a dream you have to walk towards it and despite the setbacks you have on the way, you can reach the goal.  We are personally very happy for the support of GEN Paraguay and FAC Paraguay for the support to their entrepreneurs!”

FAC 2015 Champions share their story of success!

Skymatics started out as a small drone based media company in the small country of Bermuda.  We had a big idea to use our drones for a more technical purpose so we came up with a plan for branching out into the construction and agricultural industries. We took our idea and applied for the Future Agro Challenge as a way to present our new vision to see if we were on the right track and to our surprise we won! We’ve continued on since then and haven’t looked back.

Since early 2017, Skymatics has taken on a few private investments as well as begun trials of some of our crop analysis services for a number of large insurance companies throughout the US and Canada.  A US office is next on the agenda with intentions to expand globally, first taking on Europe and South America.

 

How It All Began…

Jamillah Lodge, Business Development Officer at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, encouraged the firm to enter the Athens competition with their “cutting edge technology in robotics, engineering and computer software and applying it in diverse ways to aid in agricultural land management to monitor large tracts of farmland for moisture and nutrient content and instantly conveying this information back to central control stations.

The Athens event attracted entrants from all over the world, including Germany, Bulgaria, Morocco, Algeria and Denmark.

Speaking exclusively to The Royal Gazette, co-founder Connor Burns said: “We were pretty excited — we didn’t expect to win. We thought we would be a contender and big competitors in the field would win, but we ended up winning.”  Having taken top honours against global competitors is something that all Bermudians can be proud of!

The two Bermudian entrepreneurs were on cloud nine after their pioneering aerial photography business snapped up a top prize at FAC Global Championships 2015 in Greece. Connor Burns (left) and EJ Burrows were the first Bermuda entrants in the International Future Agro Challenge (FAC) at Industry Disruptors in Athens and their Bermuda Aerial Media and subsidiary firm Skymatics took the top prize, including 7,000 euros in funding over a field of ten.

Lodge states, “their win is the realisation of a personal goal that I have had since becoming involved with Global Entrepreneurship Week — to get our local entrepreneurs international exposure so that they can increase their opportunities for success.”

Attending the FAC really helped us see where we stood in relation to other startups in the industry, winning the FAC Global Championships also gave us the motivation that we were on the right track!

Their win was just the start, having received credibility and media attention the founders set out to expand their business into new heights.  EJ Burrows relocated to Canada setting up an office and everything has kicked off ever since!

Our vision for what we’ve done so far and what we plan to do in the future came from an in depth look at what our potential customers would need, what would make their lives easier and would pay for. You need all three of those things to have a successful product.

Our Team is Growing! Join Us!

Our small team is growing fast.  We would love your involvement in making FAC special.  Come join us!

We are seeking motivated individuals who care about the future of food and agriculture seeking a glocal impact.  At FAC, we believe we do not have all the answers, and we definitely should not.  It is our aim to bring forward agro innovation hubs from around the world inspired by a bottom up approach who could truly identify innovative voices that are creating solutions on a local, regional, and global level.

 

COMMUNITY MANAGER 

Our global network is expanding! We have a lot of news happening and we want to share it!  We are seeking an organized innovative people’s person who could engage and continue to grow our community.  A creative digital savvy storyteller must be part of this person’s qualities in order to share our updates with our community.

Requirements

  • Passion for food and agriculture with knowledge of the global market
  • 2-5 years experience in Digital Media and Marketing
  • Build and execute online campaigns
  • Creative storytelling expertise
  • Capture and analyze social data
  • Create original content for our social media platforms.
  • Reach out to and build relationships with key influencers
  • Draft relevant communication material for team
  • Establish and optimizing partnerships around the globe
  • Manage content creators to create fresh, on brand content.
  • Work closely with other team members to identify, qualify and appropriately manage leads at all stages
  • Stay current with lead generation best practices, strategies, and industry standards.
  • Strong logic, problem-solving and analytical skills.
  • Excellent command of both written and spoken English
  • Knowledge of written and spoken French would be a great plus
  • Have strong work ethic
  • Ardent learner always looking for ways to improve
  • Not afraid for searching for a needle in a stack of hay
  • Adaptable and flexible to fast moving environment

 

EVENT GURU

New ideas, new vibes! We are looking for an innovative and creative event guru who could take lead to implement large projects.

Requirements

  • Passion for food and agriculture with knowledge of the global market
  • 5 years of event management experience with corporates in an international environment
  • Well experienced in heading large teams
  • Creative and on the spot problem solver
  • Strategic and well organized
  • Able to handle long hours, adaptable and flexible to fast moving environment
  • Out of the box thinker
  • Work closely with other team members to identify, qualify and appropriately manage leads at all stages
  • Stay current with lead generation best practices, strategies, and industry standards.
  • Interest in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Excellent command of both written and spoken English and Greek
  • Strong team leadership skills

 

Interested in joining our team.  Please send your CV to hello@facagro.com and don’t hesitate to contact us for any further inquiries.  We like to have a personal contact with each candidate, so we are keeping it a little traditional on this matter! 

 

 

Claire Reid conceptualized Reel Gardening at the age of 16

Reel Gardening is a South African Social Enterprise that manufactures a patented biodegradable, pre-fertilised seed tape that enables people with little knowledge or resources to plant successfully. The Reel Gardening Seed Tape holds seeds at the correct distance apart and anchors seeds at the correct depth for optimum germination. All you need to do is make a furrow in the soil, plant the tape, water and watch it grow!

The concept of Reel Gardening was developed by Claire Reid at the age of 16 in response to the issues she faced when trying to grow her own organic vegetables at home to sell to her parents for additional pocket money. She felt overwhelmed when having to choose the correct seed and fertilizer for her region and month of planting. She was then angered by the volume she was required to purchase even though she only had a few square meters available to plant.  But it was only when she was sitting in the soil with a tape measure between her knees failing to get the seed to remain in the ground at the correct spacing did she ask for help.

Meggie, the family’s housekeeper, came to Claire’s aid and began to share her personal planting story which involved little access to water and the inability to read the instructions on the seed packet.  Meggie said that she had failed at her first attempt at growing her own food which saw her utilising her little resources looking after what turned out to be weeds. This lead to Meggie never wanting to attempt to grow her own food again. Claire decided in that moment that she wanted to create a simple solution that would make growing vegetables simple, fun and successful for everyone, regardless of access to land, time, education or water and Reel Gardening is that solution.

The Reel Gardening team is made up of 7 people, all based in Johannesburg, South Africa, 6 of these people are women, 3 of whom are previously unemployed mothers who we have upskilled to manufacture the product in our in house workshop.

They also have a team of 6 national trainers who we have upskilled through a train the trainer programme and have equip with tablet technology.

Passionate about giving back in South Africa. For every garden in a box sold through the Girl Scouts of America, Reel Gardening will donate seed tape to the community projects they support in of South Africa. Reel gardening equips anybody, with any level of gardening knowledge or education to grow their own food successfully. Reel Gardening makes growing quick, fun and easy. A garden is a gift of growing, health, connecting to the earth and fresh food. It should not only be reserved for those who can afford to pay for it.

Reel Gardening has worked with more than 300 schools over the past 6 years and has consistently seen the numerous benefits of empowering the youth to care for a garden. They learn about patience and slowing down in a past-paced, immediate gratification world. They learn to take responsibility for something and the consequences of letting that responsibility slide.

 

They learn that nature is not perfect and that sometimes your vegetables will be strange shapes and different colours but that they are still valuable and edible. They appreciate the embodied energy that goes into their food and learn to respect the environment. A vegetable garden is a beautiful life lesson.

Global Agripreneurs Summit 2017 Highlights

Global Agripreneurs Summit 2017 has become an industry highlight bringing together agripreneurs  and industry stakeholders from over 50 countries across 5 continents to accelerate the power of transfer of knowledge.

Future Agro Challenge is dedicated to bringing agripreneurs to front lines to make the changes that provides solutions for  the lives of approximately 40% of the world’s population thriving on agriculture.  FAC  bridges the gap between agripreneurs and the resources they need to develop their ideas and make a positive impact in the world.  The agripreneurs are given a chance to pitch their ideas to investors, industry leaders and decision makers with the aim to gain the  title “Agripreneur of The Year”.

Further to our surveys, agripreneurs confessed their feedback and shared promising results:

  • 100% of the startups said that the Summit fulfilled their reason for attending (being networking and funding the main reasons to attend).
  • 58% of the startups met up to 5 founders/collaborators relevant to their needs, 42% more than 6, and 20% met more than 10.

See highlights of what happened here.

AGRIPRENEUR OF THE YEAR 2017

The Future Agro Challenge Global Championships ends with a success! Claire Reid, founder of Reel Gardening located in South Africa, went home as the Agripreneur of the Year receiving a custom made package to support their next steps.

Reel Gardening has developed a unique seed system that can be grown into a vegetable or herb garden in nearly any climate. Reel Gardening pre-packages a paper strip with seeds and fertilizers so it can be easily planted at the correct depth and maintained. Find out more at www.reelgardening.co.za

Modou Ns Njie, founder of Fresh Farm Online, wins the Audience Award applauded for successfully mobilizing his network and receiving the most audience awards online.  Farm Fresh is the first online fresh food and delivery service store in Gambia, making easy and timely access to fresh fruits and vegetables available.

Runners up were Carolina Medina, Founder of Agruppa based in Colombia. Agruppa leverages mobile technology to optimize the current fruit and vegetable supply chain between the farm and mom-and-pop shops in the city.

And Okello Gabriel,operations director of Green Heat Uganda Ltd headquartered in Uganda. Green Heat Uganda Ltd’s innovative slurry-separation system greatly reduces water demand. The system creates an easily managed fertilizer product while increasing gas production.

The five other finalists were SeedForward (Germany), LARBE AgroBusiness Project (Chad)Si-Technologies International B.V (India)., Nutrishake Andino (Peru),  aQysta BV (Netherlands),

Once again we would like to congratulate all 50 agripreneurs coming across 5 continents.  The inspiration and innovation of each of you should be well recognized.  More news on updates to come!

 

Global Agripreneurs Summit Days Away

The Future Agro Challenge Global Championships will for the first time, in its third leg be held in South Africa. Another first for us is hosting our Championship in joint collaboration with the Securing Water for Food (SWFF) Grand Challenge, in what will be the Global Agripreneurs Summit 2017. SWFF is a programme developed to help farmers around the world grow more food using less water, enhance water storage and improve the use of saline water and soil to produce food.

The Global Agripreneurs Summit is a one of a kind four day vibrant event that brings the latest innovations in food, agTech, and agriculture. The Global Agripreneurs Summit 2017 will offer a varied programme participated in by top-notch industry leaders, investors, agripreneurs, farmers, thinkers, government representatives and innovators. The event is a highlight on the industry calendar and led by Future Agro Challenge in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation, USAID, Sida through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the South African Department of Science and Technology, also a co-host of the GEC.

Themes for this year’s Summit include food, agricultural technology, and agriculture innovation to adopt to tomorrow’s world; increasing the global nutritional value of food and securing water from food, as well as, increasing the global GDP contributed from agriculture.

The programme includes an Innovator Coaching Camp; One to One Investor Sessions; the Innovation Marketplace where the agripreneurs will display their innovations, finishing up with the 3rd Future Agro Challenge Global Championships on 15 March where the winner of this year’s challenge will be announced.

Official representatives attending to acknowledge the Global Agripreneurs Summit include Deputy Director General from the Department of Science and Technology, David Ferguson, Director of USAID Center for Development Innovation at the Global Development Lab, USAID Mission Director/Ambassador, Netherlands Ambassador Ms. Marisa Gerards, Ambassador of Sweden Ms. Cecilia Julin, Jan Huesken, Netherlands Deputy Ambassador.

Organisations dedicated to support agripreneurs that will be attending include Soros Economic Development Fund, IFC World Bank, Databank Agrifund, Moringa Fund, TAF African Agriculture Fund, Standard Chartered Bank, Elea Foundation, Techstars, and Global Business Angels Network to name a few.

Both the Innovation Marketplace, where innovators will display their innovations from March 14-15, and the 3rd FAC Global Championships on March 15, will be open to the public. For more information or to attend please register here. or find out more.

Follow the #FACagripreneurs Battle on Facebook and vote for your preferred idea.

Sandbar Cropping

This technique enables landless families in Bangladesh to diversity their incomes by growing pumpkins (that last for up to a year) and other crops on previously barren land. Farmers can overcome seasonal food shortages and reduce risks that threat their livelihoods.