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AgTech FoodTech

Attractive opportunities in Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture Market

Agriculture and farming is one of the oldest and most important professions in the world. Humanity has come a long way over the millennia in how we farm and grow crops with the introduction of various technologies. By 2050, the planet’s population is likely to rise to 9.7 billion, a rise of 2 billion from now. Along with increase in population, there is a substantial increase in the lifestyle. Those people will not only need to eat, they will want to eat better than people do now, because of higher incomes. However, only 4% additional land will come under cultivation by then.

In this context, use of latest technological solutions to make farming more efficient, remains one of the greatest imperatives. Farming is becoming a branch of matrix algebra. Farm operations involve a set of variables, such as the weather, soil’s moisture levels and nutrient content, competition to crops from weeds, threats to their health from pests and diseases, and the costs of taking action to deal with these things. If the algebra is done correctly, the yield gets optimised resulting in maximization of profit.

Agriculture is seeing rapid adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) both in terms of agricultural products and in-field farming techniques. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) sees a lot of direct application across sectors, it can also bring a paradigm shift in how we see farming today. The industry is turning to AI technologies to help yield healthier crops, control pests, monitor soil and growing conditions, organize data for farmers, help with workload, and improve a wide range of agriculture-related tasks in the entire food supply chain.

The overall AI in agriculture market is projected to grow from an estimated USD 1.0 billion in 2020 to USD 4.0 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 25.5% between 2020 and 2026. The market growth is propelled by the increasing implementation of data generation through sensors and aerial images for crops, increasing crop productivity through deep-learning technology, and government support for the adoption of modern agricultural techniques.

Markets and Markets

Recent Developments in AI in Agriculture include:

  1. South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry. Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.
  2. Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services. Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.
  3. Yanmar R&D Europe, with its European research facility based in Florence, Italy, focuses on a variety of field-based studies to bring added value to the agriculture industry. This include the two-year, four-million Euros ‘SMASH’ (Smart Machine for Agricultural Solutions Hightech) project being carried out in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a mobile agricultural ‘eco-system’ to monitor, analyse and manage agricultural crops.

Some of the companies active in AI in agriculture includes International Business Machines Corp., Deere & Company, Microsoft Corporation, Farmers Edge Inc., The Climate Corporation, Descartes Labs, Inc., AgEagle Aerial Systems, aWhere Inc., Gamaya Inc., Precision Hawk Inc., Granular, Inc., Prospera Technologies, Cainthus Corporation, Taranis, Resson Inc., FarmBot Inc., Connecterra B.V., Vision Robotics Corporation, Harvest Croo, LLC, Autonomous Tractor Corporation, Trace Genomics, Inc., VineView, CropX Inc., Tule Technologies Inc., Blue River technology, FarmBot and PEAT GmbH .

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AgTech Investments

South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry

Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. This helps in early problem detection and offer personalised solutions to tree and wine farmers and optimise crop performance. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.

Food security was of paramount importance, and the Aerobotics platform provided a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This importance has been highlighted further in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO at Naspers

Aerobotics uses drone flights to track tree health and size, using multispectral, high resolution drone imagery. This helps in identification of areas needing attention by a real time comparison with historical satellite health data, and make data driven decisions on the farm, using AI-based analytics platform. Aerobotics provide tools to make actionable decisions on the farm for

  • Orchard Management
  • Problem Tree Identification
  • Pest and Disease Management
  • Yield Management

Aerobotics has demonstrated success in the ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry. The services are very relevant to commercial-scale farmers and crop insurance companies who require accurate tree-level information about their clients.

Read more at Disrupt Africa.

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AgTech Investments

Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services

Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG) is the largest general insurance company in Australia and New Zealand. The Group’s businesses underwrite almost $12 billion of premium per annum, selling insurance under many leading brands. IAG, Australia’s largest general insurer, made the investment in Digital Agriculture Services (DAS) through its $75 million venture capital fund Firemark Ventures.

In April, Firemark Ventures also bought a stake in US start-up Arturo, which applies similar methods as those used by DAS – aerial imaging, AI, data analytics – to an urban setting, assessing risks to individual residential and commercial properties.

Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company was established in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science and research agency, in 2017, with a mission to deliver reliable rural intelligence. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.

Despite the importance of food and agriculture to our economy, rural data is patchy and fragmented; inaccessible or unintelligible; or simply not connected in a way that’s useful. Every day, business, policy makers and farmers are making decisions without reliable rural data or analytics. This lack of data not only means billions in decisions are being based on inaccurate, unreliable or incomplete data – it means agriculture’s risk profile is far higher than it should be.

Problem statement – DAS

DAS’ founders believe that by providing the most reliable rural intelligence possible, we can give today’s decision makers the data they need to make more informed decisions. Decisions that build competitive advantage, wealth and prosperity for all.

Read more at Financial Review

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AgTech Biotech

Mycocycle, Inc. selected as finalist in the Best World Changing Idea NA, Experimental, and General Excellence categories

The winners of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced on April 28, 2020, honoring the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to flattening the curve when it comes to the climate crisis, social injustice, or economic inequality.

Mycocycle, Inc.: Converting Waste Streams into Value Streams has been selected as a finalist in the Best World Changing Idea NA, Experimental, and General Excellence categories.

Now in its fourth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 26 winners, more than 200 finalists, and more than 500 honorable mentions—with Health and Wellness, Corporate Social Responsibility, and AI and Data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent judges selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 3,000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. The 2020 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Vancouver to Singapore to Tel Aviv.

Illustrating how some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies are addressing grave global challenges, Fast Company’s May/June issue celebrates, among others, an electric engine for airplanes that eliminates emissions from flights—and expensive fuel from the tricky financial calculus of the airline industry; a solar-powered refrigerator that finally frees people in remote villages from daily treks to distant markets, transforming the economics of those households; an online marketplace that connects food companies with farms to buy ugly and surplus produce to fight waste; and an initiative to offset all of the carbon costs of shipping, creating a new model for e-commerce sustainability.

“I am honored and stunned to have Mycocycle recognized in one category, let alone three,” says Joanne Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Mycocycle. “We have been working hard to shift the narrative on viewing trash as a resource to drive a more circular solution to waste management. Our ‘mushroom’ tech mimics nature’s processes in a controlled environment to do just that. If we don’t drive innovation in this field, we will continue to face a growing issue that is harmful to environments worldwide.”

Joanne Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Mycocycle

“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

For more information about the company, please contact: Joanne Rodriguez, joanne@mycocycle.com, Founder/CEO, Mycocycle, LLC

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AgTech FoodTech

Singapore Food Bowl aims to help regional agri-food tech startups

GROW’s Singapore Food Bowl program aims to help regional agri-food tech startups fast track their growth trajectory and commercialise novel technologies specifically relevant to Singapore’s food security agenda. The 12-week virtual accelerator allows for the local ecosystem to make a change together, by forming a cohort of local and regional startups to address the challenges and opportunities in food security and supply chain highlighted by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Singapore Food Bowl is targeting startups focused on technologies to accelerate & improve the production of Proteins (animal & alternative) and Leafy greens (controlled environment agriculture) as well as solutions that address Food Waste, Sustainable Packaging and Digital Supply Chains.

If you’re developing technologies that can materially improve productivity in the areas aligned with Singapore’s 30×30 food pillars, namely protein production and leafy greens,

Startups incorporated in Singapore or based in Asia-Pacific and having a minimum viable product (Pre-Seed to Seed stage in terms of funding) are eligible to apply for the accelerator program. Applications for the program can be filled by up to 7th of June.

Read more at Grow

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AgTech Investments

Yamaha Motor Ventures invest AUD $11 million into Australian AgTech, The Yield

The Yield Technology Solutions (“The Yield”), a leading Australian agricultural technology company, received investment of AUD $11 million, led by Yamaha Motor Ventures. Yamaha Motor Ventures is the strategic business development and investment arm of global technology organisation, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. The Yield is developing its proprietary digital application providing microclimate data and predictive insights to support critical production decisions for large commercial growers in the specialty crops industry.

“The Yield is poised to be The Climate Corp of horticulture and we look forward to supporting the team’s strategic plan to scale its data-driven solution to the global specialty crop market.”

Yamaha Motor Ventures 

The Yield works closely with produce growers to design their products and committed to solving real challenges – at farm level and throughout the food chain. They are on a mission to transform food and farming practices by building secure, scalable digital technology. The Yield’s Sensing+ combines sensors and analytics to provide information and predictions in easy-to-use apps that help large commercial growers make important on-farm decisions like when to irrigate, feed, plant, protect and harvest.

Read more at The Yield

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AgTech Blockchain

Blockchain for Food and Agriculture

Blockchain is an emerging technology allowing universal transactions among distributed parties, without the need of intermediaries. Blockchain is not a single technology but uses a combination of technologies that have a considerable history in computer science and in commercial applications like public/private key cryptography, cryptographic hash functions, database technologies especially distributed databases, consensus algorithms, and decentralised processing. Blockchain could pave way for a transparent supply chain of food, by facilitating the sharing of data between disparate actors in a food value chain.

Despite huge positives of the technology and the great interest it has received from public and private parties in general, some critical questions like accessibility, governance, technical aspects, policies, data ownership and regulatory frameworks need to be addressesed for its mass adoption.

Some common ways in which blockchain is applied in food and agriculture value chains are

Supply Chain Traceability: It enables companies to quickly track unsafe products back to their source and see where else they have been distributed. This can prevent illness and save lives, as well as reducing the cost of product recalls.

Example: Aglive – An Australian livestock tracking platform, has completed a pilot that monitored shipments of beef to China using blockchain. The pilot saw cattle tracked from Macka’s cattle farm in regional New South Wales to an abattoir located in the same state. From there, frozen beef products were tracked across the supply chain as the meat was transported by land freight interstate to Queensland, and then shipped to Shanghai — ensuring that the products were stored under safe conditions throughout transit. The products were then distributed to grocery stores in Shanghai.

Agricultural Commodities Trade: Commodities management involves deal documents, contracts, letters of credit, supply chain finance, traceability and government certifications. Blockchain is enabling these data management challenges and payment time lags.

Example: AgriDigital – A blockchain-based and integrated commodity management solution for the global grains industry.

Digital Marketplace: Digital marketplaces allow buyers and growers to connect directly, increasing the amount of profits that go to the farmers, and investors to invest directly into farms producing commodities and then trade on that investment.

Example: Twiga Foods Ltd – The company, buys fresh produce from 17,000 farmers and processed food from manufacturers and then delivers it to 8,000 vendors, most of whom are women.

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AgTech Food Loss/Waste

World Changing Ideas 2020 included Full Harvest and Food Rescue Hero

Full Harvest is the winner of the food category in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards. It’s a B2B company, with a tech platform that allows buyers—online retailers, cafes and juice bars, and sellers—farmers—to connect over the imperfect foods that are “surplus” or “ugly”. Full Harvest’s method has increased some farms’ yields by up to 30%, and their profit per acre by up to 12%.

According to the EPA’s estimates, every year, 20 billion pounds of produce goes to waste because of cosmetic reasons, while 41 million people in the U.S. struggle with hunger.

Food Rescue Hero is the winner of the apps category in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards. It’s the app that facilitates the process of connecting food to the people who need it. Its work has been powered by volunteers, who deliver food from restaurants and grocery stores to various charities and NGOs that serve people facing food insecurity, operating on the principle that everyone has a right to healthy food.

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AgTech Research

Yanmar develops modular robotic platform for agriculture

Yanmar R&D Europe, with its European research facility based in Florence, Italy, focuses on a variety of field-based studies to bring added value to the agriculture industry. This include the two-year, four-million Euros ‘SMASH’ (Smart Machine for Agricultural Solutions Hightech) project being carried out in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a mobile agricultural ‘eco-system’ to monitor, analyse and manage agricultural crops.

SMASH project objectives include the development of a modular robotic platform that uses the latest information communications technology to examine crops and soils, analyse gathered information and provide clear, actionable information to farmers to support crop management.

Yanmar’s agro-bot is to be used to monitor and control crops, take soil samples for analysis and accurately target agricultural chemicals for precision application.

Agriculture in the future will see increasing use of scientifically precise farming techniques, where automated ‘agro-bots’ monitor, treat and work the land, using advanced technology designed to help maximise yields and minimise disease.

Read more at Ymedia

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Education Press Release

Digital School of Food and Agriculture Launches Free Education App

Earlier this week, Digital School of Food and Agriculture launched a free mobile app focussed on delivering high quality education for the Food & Agriculture sector. All courses have been developed alongside industry experts and are delivered completely free to anyone who downloads the app. With this move, the School moves closer towards its goal of widening access to sector specific skills and knowledge.

With one in three people in the global workforce working in the agriculture value chain, a growing global population to feed and unprecedented times for every workforce during the current pandemic, Digital School of Food and Agriculture has launched the app to #KeepTheWorldLearning. Anyone in the sector is free to download the app and start learning without any registration required.

Courses already available on the app include ‘Urban Agriculture’, ‘Agtech’, ‘Agri Finance’ and ‘Organic Agriculture’ and the company promises to deliver more lessons and courses every week. Through the app, learners can also choose to save lessons for quick reference or share them with their network. For learners looking to boost their career as well as their personal development, certificate upgrades are also available for a small fee of US$10.

“Digital School of Food and Agriculture is pushing the boundaries in terms of access and the way people learn,” said Dr Vijayender Nalla, co-founder of Agribusiness Academy, who has supplied learning content as part of the #KeepTheWorldLearning campaign.

Learners can find out more at https://dsofa.org or by searching ‘Digital School Of Food and Agriculture’ on Google Play Store. For more information please contact: Tom Chant, tom@dsofa.org