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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 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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Food Security Investments

ADQ’s strategy to support the UAE’s agri-food ecosystem

Abu Dhabi’s, ADQ has agreed to acquire a 50 per cent stake to buy 50% stake in agri-food specialist Al Dahra Holding. Al Dahra is a prominent multinational leader in agribusiness, specializing in the cultivation, production and trading of animal feed and essential food commodities and end-to-end supply chain management. Serving a large customer base spanning the Government and Commercial sectors, Al Dahra has a widespread geographic footprint, with a workforce of 5,000 employees, operating in over 20 countries and catering to more than 45 markets, with a leading position in Asia and the Middle East.

“Food and agri-business is of importance to ADQ’s strategy because it is high growth and important for Abu Dhabi’s socio-economic agenda. Since 1995 when Al Dahra was founded in the UAE, it has grown into a global food and animal feed company and is a pillar of Abu Dhabi and our country’s food security mandate. Al Dahra will complement our existing efforts to extend ADQ’s reach in food production and distribution. With our investment, Al Dahra will be well positioned to further expand its reach and footprint while enabling Abu Dhabi to reach its goals of continuing to diversify its food sources and growing into a regional food hub.”

H.E. Mohammed Hassan Alsuwaidi, Chief Executive Officer of ADQ

Al Dahra owns and operates 15 state-of-the-art forage processing and baling facilities globally. The company also cultivates different types of fresh produce, including a wide range of fruits and vegetables, as well as grains with infrastructure to facilitate grains’ trading. Al Dahra operates three rice mills with capacity to supply 500,000 tons annually in India, Pakistan and the UAE.

The company also owns shares in three flour mills in Greece and Bulgaria that have the capacity to supply 500,000 tons annually. Additionally, the company has an olive oil production plant in Morocco with an annual production capacity of 10,000 tons, and dairy farms in Serbia and the UAE with 20,000 cows and a production capacity of 80 million liters of milk annually.

Read more at Al Dahra

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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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Food Loss/Waste

National Environment Agency, Singapore, launched a S$1.76 million food waste fund

The National Environment Agency (NEA) launched a S$1.76 million (US$1.26 million) food waste fund as part of its efforts to tackle climate change. The fund aims to help organisations subsidise the cost of installing food waste treatments solutions. Capped at S$100,000 (US$70,000) per applicant, it will cover the capital cost of waste treatment systems, accompanying equipment like bin lifters and any improvements to existing infrastructure. Companies, non-profit organisations and condominium management bodies can apply for it between May 18, 2020 and Feb 28, 2021.

Food waste accounts for about 10 per cent of the total waste generated in Singapore and its recycling rate remains relatively low.

Singapore’s inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan maps out Singapore’s key strategies to build a sustainable, resource-efficient and climate-resilient nation. This includes adopting a circular economy approach to waste and resource management practices, and shifting towards more sustainable production and consumption.

Zero Waste Masterplan aims to reduce waste sent to landfill each day by 30 percent by 2030. It also outlines plans to achieve a 70 per cent overall recycling rate by 2030. The plan sets targets for food waste, electronic waste, packaging waste and research and development.

Read more at CNA

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AgTech Biotech

MicroGen Biotech has raised $3.8 million to ensure better food safety and soil health

MicroGen Biotech has raised $3.8 million (€3.47 million) in a funding round led by a number of top US and European agtech investors. MicroGen Biotech is an Irish biotech startup company founded in 2012 by Dr. Xuemei Germaine and a spin-out of the Institute of Technology Carlow. It utilises patented isolation and high-throughput screening methods to isolate functional, high-performance microbiomes for application in agricultural crop production and environmental remediation.

It has a large database of microbes for degrading/immobilising a range of targeted pollutants from soil and for promoting plant growth. Its proprietary microbiome technology blocks the uptake of heavy metals by crops on land that has been contaminated.

MicroGen Biotech focuses on the global market in the Agri-Cleantech sector with specific target market in China. One fifth of Chinese arable land is polluted and stressed, the country has put in place a national safe food and clean soil program to reduce heavy metals. The China Soil Pollution Control Law 2019 encourages the prioritization of bioremediation measures to prevent pollutants from entering food crops.

MicroGen Biotech focuses on three major solutions:

  1. Environmental Bioremediation: Bioremediation is a treatment process that uses microorganisms (including bacteria) and plants to degrade toxic contaminants into less toxic or non-toxic substances.
  2. Plant Growth Promotion: A critically important component of the soil/plant microbiome are Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria or PGPB. Application of PGPBs to crop plants have been shown to significantly increase crop yield when used in low input agricultural systems.
  3. Stressed Agricultural Soil: Stressed soil can be a major inhibitor of agricultural production and globally represents a considerable loss in potential crop yield. Stresses can be biotic (e.g. plant pathogens and insect pests) or abiotic (e.g drought, salinity, heavy metals).

Read more at CarlowLive

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AgTech FoodTech

Top AgTech and FoodTech Startups

AgTech and FoodTech are on the cusp of next era of productivity and environmental conservation while reducing food waste, improving carbon sequestration, improving water quality, and increasing renewable energy. Below is the glimpse of exceptional companies who are pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology.

These 100 innovative AgTech and FoodTech companies are categorised in 10 broad categories on the basis of specific problems addressed by them.

  1. Crop Nutrition, Health & Protection: AgBiome, Benson Hill Biosystems, BioConsortia, Biome Makers, Ginkgo Bioworks, Inari, Pivot Bio, Trace Genomics, ZeaKal, NewLeaf Symbiotics, Plant Response, Provivi, Semios, Terramera, Vestaron, Zymergen, Indigo Agriculture, Fieldin, Biotalys, Taranis, and TerViva.
  2. Farm Management & Forecasting: Arable Labs, Agrosmart, CropX, Growers Edge, PrecisionHawk, Resson, Solinftec, The Yield, Agworld, Bushel, CropIn, Farmer’s Business Network, Farmobile, Orbital Insight, Prospera Technologies and AgriWebb.
  3. Environmental Impact & Waste: MagGrow, Bowery, BrightFarms, Infarm, AeroFarms, Gotham Greens, Plenty, Enterra, Afresh, FoodMaven, Full Harvest, Lactips, TIPA, AgriProtein, Winnow, and WISErg.
  4. Labor: FarmWise, ecoRobotix, Robotics Plus, Bossa Nova Robotics, and Soft Robotics.
  5. Animal Nutrition & Health: Advanced Animal Diagnostics, and Stellapps.
  6. Food Quality & Safety: Ancera, Hazel Technologies, CMS Technology, Label Insight, Tastewise, Apeel Sciences, and Clear Labs.
  7. Storage, Transportation & Distribution: BluWrap, TeleSense, and Farmer’s Fridge.
  8. Traceability: FoodLogiQ, ICIX, IdentiGEN, and SafeTraces.
  9. Trade: Ninjacart, ProducePay, Brightloom, and Crowd Cow.
  10. Novel Foods & Ingredients: Good Catch, Imperfect Foods, Impossible Foods, JUST, Miyoko’s, Ripple Foods, Soylent, Sunfed meats, Clara Foods, DouxMatok, Epogee, Future Meat Technologies, Geltor, Hinoman, Innovopro, Manus Bio, Memphis Meats, MycoTechnology, Noblegen, Nuritas, Perfect Day, and Protifarm.

Source: SVG Ventures THRIVE Platform

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AgTech Protein

Insectta Receives R&D Funding to Fuel Insect Biomaterials Research

Insectta, founded in 2017, started as an insect farm focused on producing alternative proteins for animal feeds, but pivoted to the extraction of biomaterials from insects. As the first urban insect farm in Singapore rearing the black soldier fly (hermetia illucens), Insectta takes food waste and returns it into the economy as valuable biomaterials.

Trendlines Agrifood Fund, a medical and agricultural technologies focussed fund, has invested an undisclosed amount in Insectta, to fuel the work on the extraction of valuable insect-derived biomaterials.

Insectta manufactures black soldier fly chitosan, which is much purer and lower in heavy metals than conventional chitosan and have applications in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, anti-microbial food packaging, and agrotech. The company is in the midst of developing a superior black soldier fly derived animal feed additive that functions as both a protein and a probiotic.

Read more at Trendlines