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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 Greenhouse

Hotraco Horti completed one of the largest agricultural greenhouse project

Hotraco Horti completed a large automation project in Egypt covering more than 1200 ha in 2020. It is seen as one of the largest agricultural greenhouse projects in the world. Hotraco Horti supplied complete automation for greenhouse climate and irrigation. The greenhouse project is an initiative of the National Company for Protective Cultivations (NCPC) and is located on an old naval base near the coast of Alexandria.

With this mega-project, consisting of 126 clusters of 6, 8, 10 or 12 horticultural greenhouses, each covering more than a hectare, Egypt is taking major steps towards self-sufficiency in food production and food security. For Hotraco Horti, the project was considered incredibly challenging and ground-breaking, in part due to its size and the tight schedule.

Hotraco Horti core business activity is in the regulation, control and monitoring of all greenhouse processes. They manage all major processes ranging from ventilation and climate control, irrigation- and water regulation, to management and energy distribution.

Read more at Hotraco Horti

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Agriculture Fisheries

‘Survive, reboot, and grow,’ is the ‘new normal’

Amid the challenges in global food systems due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippines, is ready to take on the challenge of the ‘new normal’ facing the country’s agriculture and fishery sector. It is imperative for the government to rethink and restructure its policies and practices to prevent from being overwhelmed by future crisis. DA is considering a three-pronged strategy to bring agriculture back to normalcy.

  1. We must simply surpass this global crisis.
  2. We must reboot and reform our agricultural policies, and refocus our priorities to minimize the adverse effects.
  3. The agriculture and fishery sector must grow, by attracting more investments and resources, and partnering with the private sector.

Together, we will survive, reboot, and grow toward a food-secured nation.

Read more at Philippine Information Agency

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AgTech Press Release

What’s it like to start your own agri tech business during a global pandemic?

It is certainly a challenging time to start a new business, but is there ever a right time to start a new venture? Given the urgent need for change in the global food market, there has never been such a demand for locally grown, fresh, organic food.

Meet Lauren Davis and Jessica O’Leary. Recent graduates in food business and biochemistry, with Masters degrees in business, they have always had a passion for technology. More recently, they have endeavoured to start a pioneering business in the modern food industry. They have closely followed the industry for many years, reading publications such as AgReads®. They believe the time is right to bring their hydroponics business Hydrofood into the world.

We are currently in the midst of a pandemic which will leave a lasting mark on how we live our lives as a human species. Recent food runs and shortages have reminded the consumer and business man alike of how interdependent our global supply chains are. Here in Ireland, our horticulture season runs from approximately April to September, on a good year. We want to change that. Hydroponic technology has been tried, tested and proven, and is beginning to take off, particularly in places like Singapore and Saudi Arabia that are almost exclusively dependent on food imports for fresh produce. Hydrofood intends to bring hydroponics to the mainstream in Ireland. We intend to reduce Ireland’s plant food imports, thus our carbon footprint, and grow sustainable food that is organic by definition. In turn, this will sustain our local economy and feed our growing population for years to come.

This article is contributed by Jessica O’Leary, co-founder, Hydrofood

Categories
Agriculture

Urban Agriculture: A national strategy in works for Luxembourg

Urban farming or urban agriculture is essential not only as an alternative to traditional production, but as an innovative solution to promote the circular economy and thus reinvent our cities. The Ministry of Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, NEOBUILD and the Council for the Economic Development of Construction (CDEC) presented on the occasion of the conference “Living City: urban farming & revegetation of buildings” on 23 May 2019 the national strategy “Urban Farming Luxembourg”.

Urban farming, as a policy, could lead to effective balancing of economic and social interests while minimizing trade-offs. The benefits conceptualised in favour of the policy are:

  • Development of social ties by bringing living spaces, serving as a place of training, promoting reintegration and well-being of citizens.
  • Fulfilment of ecological functions like regulation of microclimates, air purification, preservation of biodiversity etc.
  • Stimulation of local economy by new activities where money stays longer in the local circuit.

Local production will also mitigate reliance on imports and serves as a buffer during supply disruptions to import sources, which contributes to nation’s food security.

Read more at UrbanFarming.LU

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Trade

European Commission warns against shift towards protectionism in agri-food sector

Uncertainty about food availability sparked a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market. Countries across the EU are increasingly considering protectionist measures, promoting national agri-food products and discouraging imported products. There has been a sequel of instances across the EU, particularly in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Austria, Greece, where concerned ministers urged either to increase consumption of local products or to stop the import and sale of fruits and vegetables until locally grown supplies are exhausted.

That has prompted the European Commission to express concern about the effect this would have on the free movement of goods and services in the internal market, knowing the fact that no member state has the capacity to meet all its own needs for all products. The European Commission is “urgently addressing intra-EU export bans and restrictive measures by member states,” and could resort infringement proceedings against non-compliant member states.

Now is not the time for restrictions or putting in place trade barriers. Now is the time to protect the flow of food around the world.

Read more at Euractiv

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Uncategorized

What’s the way out for Big Food companies?

After decades of rising sales and high popularity, makers and sellers of processed food are under pressure. Stringent regulations, negative media campaigns, declining popularity, shrinking margins and consolidation are the trending words in the food processing industry.

What’s the way out for Big Food companies?

  1. Consolidation and cost-cutting: The situation in Big Food sector is similar to that of tobacco industry where consolidation and cost-cutting was the only way-out to keep profits up. If the decline in processed foods’ popularity continues, two further strategies—consolidation and cost­ cutting—will become more prevalent.
    • Example: In 2015, Berkshire and 3G backed Heinz in its roughly $45b merger with Kraft Foods, created the third-largest North American food company.
  2. Emulate lean startups: Big companies face a common issue: sunk-cost fallacy. As per sunk-cost fallacy, companies continue to invest more time and money into the existing projects because they have already invested a lot of time and money into that project. This situation is similar to the case of Family farms, who are going out of business for decades, but new ones are being founded, promising organic, locally grown produce.
    • Example: Chobani, a maker of Greek­style yogurt started in 2005, has reached to a sales of around $1.5b by 2018, as per forbes estimates.
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Uncategorized

The Farm-to-Table Connection Comes Undone

Farm-to-table — the term has become a fixture in the culinary lexicon — started in the 1970s, when Chez Panisse and a handful of other restaurants hatched what then seemed like a radical notion: Build menus from food grown by nearby farmers who are thoughtful about everything from the seeds they select and the soil they grow them in to the communities they feed. That idea grew into a pipeline connecting farmers, ranchers and chefs that in 2019 had generated $12 billion in income for small-scale producers including cheesemakers and vintners.

A direct pipeline to chefs that took decades to build has been cut off by the coronavirus, leaving small farmers and ranchers with food they can’t sell. Small farmers across the country who spent decades building a local, sustainable agricultural system, are staring at their fields and wondering what to do now that the table has been kicked out from under the modern farm-to-table movement. All of that market is gone, and no one knows what’s going to happen or how people’s behaviors are going to change.

Read more at The New York Times

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Uncategorized

ADIO to invest US$100 million in four global AgTech pioneers

Four agriculture technology (AgTech) pioneers will build new facilities in Abu Dhabi dedicated to developing next generation agriculture in arid and desert agriculture. The Abu Dhabi Investment Office, ADIO, has partnered individually with AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and Responsive Drip Irrigation, RDI. The investment office has launched a targeted incentive programme in 2019 to accelerate the growth of the emirate’s burgeoning (AgTech) ecosystem and promote innovation that is locally relevant and globally exportable. The packages are being dispersed as part of ADIO’s AED1 billion (US$272 million) AgTech Incentive Programme, established a year ago

AeroFarms will focus on next-generation genetic phenotyping and organoleptic research while also tackling the challenges of desert agriculture from its new 8,200-sqm R&D centre in Abu Dhabi. Madar Farms, a home-grown UAE AgTech innovator, will build the world’s first commercial-scale indoor tomato farm using only LED lights in KIZAD. RDI is developing an innovative irrigation system to transform water usage in UAE agriculture and conducting research trials to increase crop yields in sandy soils and non-arable land. While locally-based company RNZ will set up a state-of-the-art R&D centre to research, formulate and commercialise ‘agri-input’ solutions that will help to grow more with less.

Read more at Emirates News Agency

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Uncategorized

Singapore announces SGD 30 million investment in agri-food industry

Singapore on Wednesday announced a 30-million Singapore dollar investment in the agri-food industry to speed up the production of commonly consumed food items like eggs, vegetables and fish during the coronavirus crisis. Called the 30×30 Express grant, it aims to strengthen Singapore’s food security, as part of its goal of meeting 30 per cent of the country’s nutritional needs with food produced locally by 2030. The grant call will enable the government to crowdsource and support ideas from the agri-food industry to develop innovative approaches to grow food productively and sustainably. Local farmers can use the grant to help defray the cost of accelerating production capacity within the next six to 24 months. This includes co-funding of productivity-enhancing technology systems.

Read more at Outlook