Agtech Solutions to Food Security: Weekly Review 4/20 – 4/24

Agriculture experts agree that innovations on the farm will be critical to ensuring that enough food is produced to feed the growing population. Entrepreneurs have stepped up to the challenge and agtech startups are popping up around the world offering innovating farming solutions that enable better efficiency and result in increased crop yields. Below are articles highlighting how agtech solutions can help to ensure global food security.

Agtech Key to Feeding the World by 2050 by Broede Carmody on Startup Smart

According to Paul Turner, founder of AgDNA, a data processing and analytics startup, agriculture technology startups are the key to feeding the world’s rapidly growing population. Companies like AgDNA, and our portfolio companies CropIn and OnFarm, help farmers make smarter decisions resulting in increased yields and minimized production costs. This increased efficiency will be critical to enabling farmers to double food output without an increase in resources.

Salinas and Silicon Valley Though Leaders to Guide Next Generation Farms Discussion by Jordan Okumura on And Now U Know

On May 11, Ag Tech experts and thought leaders will congregate in Monterey, CA for the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Tech Knowledge Symposium. The symposium will feature a forward-thinking panel discussion to provide a glimpse into the future of production and emerging technologies in produce. Among the thought leaders that will attend is the founder and CEO of our portfolio company, OnFarm, Lance Donny. “The produce farm of the future will have greater efficiency in labor, logistics, and applied material,” says Donny. “Like we see in commodity crops today, more mechanization in everything from planting and harvesting to application of material will yield more efficiency, and that future isn’t too far off. There are companies working on these problems today.”

7 Surprising Facts on Global Agriculture, Food Security, and Farming by Alison Rice on AgWeb

At the 2015 Global Food Security Symposium, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs addressed the intertwined issues surrounding food, farming, hunger and health politics. Below are seven facts that the council hoped would generate a continued conversation on the need for supporting sustainable agriculture globally:

  1. The amount of meat that, when fed to children daily, can double their cognitive capacity: 60 grams
  2. How much water costs per cubic meter in Germany versus the United States: $3 vs. 75 cents
  3. How much food the world wastes each year: 1.3 billion tons
  4. Share of children worldwide who are stunted: 1 in 4
  5. How much more a Brazilian earns in his or her lifetime for each additional centimeter of final adult height: 2.5 percent. Height is a marker for health that reveals who gets enough food to eat
  6. Maximum number of years a U.S. president can stay in office: 8. White House turnover too often affects food security policy decisions.
  7. The year that a severe drought began in the African nation of Mali: 1972

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ICT Developments in Africa: Weekly Review: 4/13 – 4/17

Lack of reliable internet connectivity, local data storage and hosting services negatively impact the productivity of SMEs in Africa. Entrepreneurs have identified the need for affordable, reliable ICT products and services and companies like Angani and BRCK are stepping up to develop and market innovative solutions. Below are recent articles looking at recent developments in ICT across Africa.

Kenya’s Angani Formally Launches Cloud Services by Tom Jackson on Disrupt Africa

Our portfolio company, Angani, a fully automated cloud infrastructure startup, formally launched its cloud and hosting services on April 8th.  Angani is the first fully automated cloud infrastructure company in Africa, its services focus on SMEs, financial services and media industries on the continent. These services will enable businesses to leverage the flexibility of the cloud for data workloads such as enterprise and web applications. With the flexibility to increase capacity only when they need to, Angani delivers costs savings and efficiency that businesses were severely lacking in the past.

Cloud Services to Improve in Africa on Spy Ghana

Wale Odeyemi, Executive Head of International Products at Vodacom, reflects on his extensive consultations with companies across Africa, stating that most enterprises show enthusiasm about the potential for cloud services, but most are looking to service providers for guidance on where to begin, and how to effectively use services. Until recently, cloud adoption across the continent has been hampered by concerns surrounding poor connectivity, lack of understanding, availability of bandwidth, and the security of data stored in the cloud. Today however, high speed data networks are rapidly being rolled out across the continent, resulting in a drop in prices and an increase in awareness of the benefits of the cloud.

Africa Forum to Discuss Spectrum Challenges, Broadband Connectivity by Emma Okonji on AllAfrica

ICT stakeholders across Africa will converge in Nairobi, Kenya for the 10th annual Spectrum Africa Workshop in June to continue the conversation on spectrum challenges and discuss solutions to enhancing broadband connectivity throughout Africa. The Workshop is designed as a capacity building programme for policy makers, regulators, operators, legislators, universities and their associated research establishments concerned with the development of the ICT industry. Key stakeholders from African countries are provided with a forum to coordinate positions on ICT issues and work to allocate resources and develop solutions to these issues.

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Innovations in Agriculture: Weekly Review 4/6 – 4/10

At Invested Development, we believe innovative technologies in farming will play a key role in ensuring that food production meets the calorie needs of the growing global population.  To date, we have invested in five ventures whose innovative technologies have applications in agriculture solutions: OnFarm, Cropin, iProcure, Rowbot, and Promethean Power Systems. Below are articles highlighting how innovation in farming technology is improving agriculture.

Investing in Agriculture: Innovation is Changing the Face of Farming by Kathryn Boothby on

Finding a way to reduce costs while increasing production on farms is becoming more and more critical as both demand for agriculture commodities and costs of inputs continue to rise. In order to keep up with the rising global population with limited land available for cultivation, the necessary increase in production must come from innovations in farming technologies. This need for efficiency and sustainability is driving major innovation in agriculture. New technologies are addressing major issues like traceability, farm management and resource efficiency. As new technologies continue to change the face of the sector, agriculture is becoming an emerging sector for investment.

Helping Farmers in Identifying Problems and Improving Produce by Neesha Thunga K on Livemint

As India’s population continues to rise rapidly, food production is trailing behind. Entrepreneurs like Krishna Kumar and Kunal Prasad, founders of our portfolio company, Cropin Technology Solutions, believe that technology is the answer to closing the gap in production. Cropin has developed a cloud-based farm management solution that brings together farms and supporting organizations to increase productivity and ensure last-mile traceability. Cropin supports more than 200,000 farmers in 14 states of India and has helped improve productivity by at least 12% on some farms, minimizing the use of inputs and reducing loses by 18%.

Research Focuses on Closing Yield Gap by Stephanie Henry on AgWeek

Crop science researchers at the University of Illinois are attempting to identify practical solutions to increasing yields to meet the food, feed and fuel demands of the growing population. A recent study from the Illinois Crop Physiology Laboratory quantifies the US corn yield gap, defined as the difference between a farmer’s yield and the potential yield of the field. The study found that by using a farm management system that addressed plant population, insect resistance, supplemental nitrogen, and crop nutrition, resulted in a yield increase of 28%. The study also concluded that no single factor or technology accounted for the increase in yield. It was the result of the factors acting together that produced the highest yields. Subsequently, researchers are hypothesizing that yields can be further increased in a sustainable way with continued efforts to develop and advance farming technologies.

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