The Great Challenge Facing Humanity — and the Israel Connection

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Global AgInvesting.

Global AgInvesting logoGlobal agriculture is faced with the enormous challenge of feeding the world, but is not equipped with the right “tools” to address it adequately.

According to Dr. Fred Davis, an expert from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), lack of water, energy, and land will lead to food shortages that will not suffice all 9 billion people expected to live on Earth by 2050, and could lead to global conflicts. According to The World Bank, the amount of arable land fell by 30% in just 50 years; and by 2025, approximately 40% of the world population will suffer from a shortage of water. Rising food prices over the past decade attests to validity of this data.

Trendlines Agtech CEO Nitza Kardish, Ph.D.

“Israel is uniquely positioned as a source of agtech innovation, with more than 300 research groups and a strong culture of multidisciplinary problem solving,” remarks Trendlines Agtech CEO Nitza Kardish, Ph.D.

Many governments have reached the understanding that they must invest significant resources as soon as possible to deal with the challenge. The private sector is also starting to understand the need to develop advanced agricultural technologies to provide food for “the inhabitants of the world” in the near and distant future and are directing more resources for these purposes.

However, various studies show that there is a big difference between different parts of the world. In Africa, for example, a large percentage of produce is lost from the field to the market or other selling points, either because it is not harvested, or due to problems of transport and refrigeration systems. In developed countries, mainly the United States, a high percentage of the food is thrown out after reaching the stores, either it goes bad before it is bought, or thrown out after reaching the table, or from an overfull refrigerator.

The waste is measured not only by what is thrown out, but by all the enormous resources that are wasted in the production of the food: water, energy, personnel, damage to the Earth due to accumulation of garbage and further damage from the gases emitted by the garbage.

The huge gap between the quantity and quality of food required and available today and what is necessary for the future, will be closed only through technology and investments in those technologies.

Investment in agtech was relatively flat until 2013. But then there was a shift. In 2013 agtech investment grew by 75% reaching $860 million. 2014 witnessed an even sharper increase of 170%. The trend continued through 2015 and 2016 showing strong investment growth.

This increase in investments was matched with the establishment of ag-focused accelerators and incubators. Today there are about 20 different agtech-focused accelerators and incubators globally, and general investors are also expressing more and more interest in the sector.

Incubators and accelerators are an important source of capital for agtech companies that may otherwise have difficulty raising seed capital from mainstream investors. The start-up companies that work in incubator programs, are usually subject to a high level of diligence and hands-on involvement. These programs go beyond fundraising to include business development, market research and understanding. Entrepreneurs can also take advantage of the incubators’ networks and resources.

Israel is uniquely positioned as a source of agtech innovation, with more than 300 research groups and a strong culture of multidisciplinary problem solving. Israel, being a small area geographically, with a scarcity of agricultural and natural resources, pioneered numerous solutions to make the desert bloom. That’s what makes Israel the ideal place to learn about and embrace new agtech ideas and technologies that will help the world “do more with less” in the coming decades.

The combination of professional knowledge and current technological innovation attracts investors who recognize the business opportunities inherent in the local agtech sector. There are investment funds eyeing Israeli agricultural developments and seeking promising investment channels.

Creating an ecosystem to encourage innovation in agtech, was recognized by Trendlines Agtech — Israel’s only agtech incubator. Since 2012 we have hosted the AgriVest conference in Israel to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, industry leaders and government officials to examine the trends, the solutions and the investment opportunities the sector presents. We invite you to join us.

 

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