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Agrifood Tech Industry Is Currently Focusing On These 4 Trends

AgTech had increased significantly in 2021. Global agrifood tech investment totaled $22.3 billion, with $5 billion going to AgTech and $17.3 billion going to food tech.

Chintu Das
Digital Farming
Digital Farming

AgTech had increased significantly in 2021. According to Finistere Ventures' 2020 AgriFood Tech Investment Review, which was developed in collaboration with PitchBook Data, global agrifood tech investment totalled $22.3 billion, with $5 billion going to AgTech and $17.3 billion going to food tech. The market is also increasing at a 50% compound annual growth rate, according to the research. 

According to Allied Market Research, investments in controlled environment agriculture, such as indoor vertical farms, are expected to expand from $2.4 billion in 2018 to $18 billion by 2026. Bowery, an indoor vertical farming firm, raised $300 million in May 2021. 

Ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture are the second of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Although the UN wants to achieve this target by 2030, Sachin Gupta, IBM's Global Agribusiness Industry Leader, believes it will necessitate a significant transformation of the global food and agriculture system. 

"While this transformation will be challenging and arduous, technology will play an important role," Gupta added. "Emerging technologies are being applied to boost agriculture outputs for small-holder farmers to large agribusiness operators in a sustainable way." 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Artificial intelligence, according to Gupta, is one of the primary factors that is continuing to alter agriculture (AI). 

"AI will substantially improve land-based farming by assisting farmers in forecasting weather conditions," Gupta said. "Farming is a high-risk endeavour. Weather has always been a problem for farmers around the world, whether it's drought, flooding, or something in between. Food security stabilisation is a global priority." 

Gupta mentions Yara, who collaborates with IBM to boost crop yields by using hyper-local weather forecasts. FarmWeather, their software, was created for small-holder farmers to assist them  maximise crop output despite inclement weather. 

"The app uses AI and IoT to deliver risk projections and crop recommendations for a three to four-kilometer radius around a farm, as well as information exchange – including by SMS for farmers who do not have access to the Internet or a smartphone," Gupta explained. 

Vertical Farming 

According to Insight Partners' analysis published in October 2021, the Vertical Farming Market will expand from $4,300 million in 2021 to $19,864 million by 2028. 

Vertical farming, according to Rasmus Bjerngaard, founder and CEO of Nextfood, checks a lot of boxes. "Vertical farms boost flavour and nutrition while reducing climate change and biodiversity loss." "In vertical farming, AI and automation are crucial to minimising the primary operational costs of yield vs light use and yield versus labour utilisation," Bjerngaard added. 

"Covid has demonstrated that food safety and food system resilience are serious problems with vertical farming as a solution," Bjerngaard added. "At the same time, while some vertical farming client segments, such as restaurants, were heavily hit by the pandemic and may have harmed vertical farms, the consequences were nowhere near those seen in outdoor growing since vertical farms can cut off OPEX." 

Blockchain Technology 

According to Gupta, blockchain technology would help boost supply chain transparency, allowing consumers to better understand the origins and quality of the products they buy. 

"Blockchain is more than aspirational corporate technology; it is currently being  utilised  to  revolutionise how people create trust in the commodities they consume," Gupta said. 

Thank My Farmer, an IBM blockchain application, helps growers bridge the gap between customers and small-holder coffee farmers, allowing coffee drinkers to track their coffee's quality and origin while also supporting the farmer who farmed the beans. 

Autonomous Machines And Robotics

Apart from a major push toward sustainability, Rebeiro believes that the adoption of autonomous tractors and other robotic technology will expand at an exponential rate. 

"While we can't predict exactly what this will look like in years to come," Rebeiro added, "we envision a future in which significant farmers like us will have autonomous equipment pools that can cover broad geographic areas." "In this scenario, you might have a sophisticated, tech-savvy fleet manager in charge of deploying an autonomous tech pool across many areas and seasons to fulfil on-demand needs." 

Rebeiro believes that the change to this approach will have a significant impact on labour costs, efficiency, and productivity. 

According to WayBeyond's Keiller, automation can also help with labour shortages. 

Fieldin's CEO, Boaz Bachar, believes that autonomous farming technology is nearing commercial maturity. 

 

"We already know that the future farm will not look like today's farms, and I expect new enterprises to arise to facilitate this unavoidable transformation," Bachar added. "I anticipate agriculture, in particular, will shift away from CAPEX-heavy financial management and toward a modern OPEX approach, allowing new types of financing and fintech solutions to emerge." 

Bachar expects to see a variety of specialty hardware solutions to handle the farm's day-to-day operational issues. 

"Specialized components like these are already finding their way into commercial use," Bachar added, "but operator adoption will be difficult until a centralised software platform can expedite their management." "In the end, this advanced software component is the missing link that will allow us to rationalise and unite the next generation of technology." 

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