Agriculture has shown a huge amount of resilience to the challenges of COVID-19, but the future of the industry continues to be the subject of intense debate. Farmers’ roles in powering progress towards a low carbon future cannot be downplayed, and while we’re seeing some positive movements, more needs to be done to deliver transformative change in this highly polluting sector.
Farming faces a number of different challenges – namely climate change, crop management, population growth, labour availability and keeping pace with tech. The latter can otherwise be described as ‘agritech’ – a sector that has significantly grown in recent years and is proving increasingly popular with so-called ‘impact investors’ looking to build their portfolios before the inevitable boom.
Because – yes, we will state the obvious – our planet is undergoing a huge amount of change. Weather patterns are becoming more erratic, species are dying out, water availability is reduced, biodiversity is at risk, and food quality is being comprised. It’s our responsibility to act now, and agriculture potential to change the face of farming is very real.
Here are a few UK based agritech businesses that excite us most:
Kisan Hub is part of a global community of technology innovators serving the food supply chain. Its shared mission is ‘to build solutions to support one of the world’s most meaningful challenges, ‘how to feed a population of 9 billion by 2050’. The platform enables farming businesses to capture data across a wide portfolio of growers and consolidate that information into one central resource. It also communicates complex data to strengthen collaboration with suppliers, monitor crops and deliver high-quality produce.
Vertical Future is committed to fighting irreversible change brought on by the climate crisis. Its vertical farms produce crop varieties closer to points of consumption, growing fresh produce without soil and in controlled conditions – year-round. If implemented correctly, efficiently, and in a sustainable manner, vertical farming can enable and promote a better, healthier planet and population.
Tropic Bio Sciences develops high-performing tropical crops which promote cultivation efficiencies, enhance consumer health, and improve sustainable agriculture environmental practices. They use innovative technologies to meet nutritional demands and to support the sustainable development of growing local communities around the world. The company recently completed a $28.5 million Series B round of equity funding, led by Temasek, to accelerate Tropic’s growth trajectory.
Fieldmargin is an app that integrates farm maps, field work, inputs and reporting. Described as the app all farmers have been waiting for, it maps a farm in just 30 minutes, record crops and plan rotations, adds detail like fences, gateways, buildings and water pipes, and helps workers navigate and avoid hazards. The app is trusted by thousands of farms in over 170 countries, and is built to be flexible so it works for different types of agriculture including arable crops, livestock (sheep and cattle), horticulture, vineyards and forestry.
Infarm combines highly efficient vertical farms with IoT technologies and Machine Learning, to offer an alternative food system that is resilient, transparent, and affordable. The company distributes its smart modular farms throughout the urban environment to grow fresh produce for the city’s inhabitants. With cutting edge R&D, patented technologies, and a leading multi-disciplinary team, Infarm was founded on a visionary mission: helping cities become self-sufficient in their food production while significantly improving the safety, quality, and environmental footprint of our food.
WeFarm is the world’s largest platform for small scale farmers. Over 1 billion smallholder farmers produce 70% of the world’s food, and four of the five most traded commodities on earth, yet the vast majority lack access to the internet and even basic information to help them solve problems or share ideas. WeFarm is the first platform built for these farmers and has more than 1 million farmers using its ecosystem in Kenya and Uganda alone.