Food security is a key issue in today’s world, especially in Asia, where there’s an expected boom in the middle class, changing consumer patterns as well as increasing scarcity of arable land due to climate change.
Future Food Asia is one of the emerging players in innovation for technological developments in agriculture as well as food and launched a startup competition in November 2016 to place itself at the centre of these developments. It is offering a US$100,000 grant for the startup making an significant impact in the food value chain. The competition saw startups from 19 different countries applying and on Friday 26th May, the top eight startups from across Asia Pacific will pitch for the grand prize.
Besides the startup competition, the event will also host panel discussions on innovation in the food value chain and investing in the Agritech and Foodtech space, featuring speakers such as Dr. Ralph Graichen, Director of Food and Nutrition at the Biomedical Research Council under A*STAR Singapore; Mr. Jason Clay, Senior Vice-President for Markets and Food at the World Wildlife Fund and Mr. Ian Pinner, President, Southeast Asia , ANZ and Global Destination Marketing at Archer Daniels Midland Company.
Demonstrating the open innovation concept, the event is the result of a collaboration between ID Capital – a boutique investment firm specialised in Agritech & Foodtech deals – as well as Singapore’s Economic Development Board and Archer Daniels Midland Company, an American food processing and commodities corporation.
Tickets are still available here, so go sign up to learn more!
We spoke with three of the startup finalists to hear more about how they plan to impact the food value chain:
FarmFriend is an online marketplace connecting drone pilots and rural farmers in China. Noting that with the rural-urban demographic shift, there was a greater need for technology to help improve agriculture productivity. Hence by aligning with the goals for greater automation in the Chinese agriculture space, they established a platform for drone pilots to find a steady source of income whilst farmers can see better returns on their investment into fertilisers and pesticides. By integrating their own sensor on the private drones, they can provide feedback to the pilots on how to optimise their spraying process, through analysing the rate of spraying, area covered, time taken and more. This has also been integral in offering farmers a better sense of their return-on-investment (ROI) by improving the identification of the areas which have been covered by the service.
Biolight uses the visible light spectrum to increase the health and immunity of livestock. Currently installed at industrial farms, their technology helps businesses maintain and even improve their productivity despite the ban on antibiotics as growth hormones. Through a collaboration with the Korean government, their testbeds in Korea have shown that the lamps can make the cows healthier whilst also improving on the quality of milk produced. Also, by using the lamp with expectant livestock, they go to the root of productivity issues through helping farmers maintain more sustainable farms with healthier and more productive offspring overall.
Agrint has managed to make military-grade sensors into an agricultural tool by using seismic sensors to detect the presence of the Red Palm Weevil, one of the most harmful and undetectable pests affecting palm and coconut trees worldwide. Through their software platform, plantation owners can view a dashboard of their current trees and identify at a glance which have been affected and what are the next areas to be protected. Over time, the data from the sensors can provide early warning systems based off predictive analytics according to the region and more. A big development planned for the future as well is to integrate software into the sensor of the chip that can learn the seismic vibrations for other pests and expand the use cases to other forms of agriculture!