Unprecedented technology adoption shaves years off technological milestones

COVID-19 put incredible strain on the agriculture industry globally and has exposed several vulnerabilities in the food system, such as insufficient capacity in domestic food production and labor challenges.

There has certainly been an industry-wide response to learning from this extensive supply chain shock. Agritech is being pushed to the fore in a variety of different ways to drive agricultural efficiency, augment workforces, increase yield, strengthen supply chains and much more.

Agriculture is the third industry we are profiling, as we combine our industry focus with media and comms expertise to highlight some of the positive ways technology is helping businesses navigate through the new global climate.

Here’s a cross-section of the top agritech stories grabbing the headlines in national and trade media outlets:

  1. Technology companies from the UK and Europe have teamed up to address labor shortages in field and greenhouses with fleets of robots. The robots can carry out light treatment to control mildew on strawberries and vines, drastically reducing the need for fungicides.
  2. In India the government have announced a huge investment package to stimulate growth in agritech start-ups. Unlike other industries, there is a clear V-shaped recovery in the agriculture sector as farmers are being more open to adopting new-age technologies such as IoT, AI and data analytics practices to keep their farming cycle running. Indeed, India’s already booming agritech sector experienced 18 months worth of progression in just two months during COVID-19.
  3. There has been a spike in global interest in vertical farming, where crops are grown in stacks in an indoor environment. They can be automatically watered, fed and lit using LED lights, allowing them to be grown year-round with minimal labor near their markets.
  4. Solving workforce issues long-term has also been top of the agenda recently. The United Nations Development Programme is working with 31 promising agritech startups to implement their solutions in 11 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America – with a core focus on how youth can drive digital transformation and bring fresh ideas into the sector.
  5. As part of a dedicated webinar from Food Navigator, a panel of industry experts explained why supply chain modernization will be critical across the Asia-Pacific post-COVID-19. The panel highlighted how digital supply chains can boost resilience, sustainability and cope with increasing consumer demand in the wake of the virus.
  6. A number of trends have been spotted across the U.S. agriculture scene, with increases in hardware used for data analytics in-field, robotics & automation and an explosion in home grocery delivery.

Agritech has stepped up to the plate over the last few months to keep the agriculture industry moving forward during an unprecedented global supply chain shock. The significant steps – which have taken place in months rather than years – put the industry in a strong position for the immediate future and beyond.

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

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