Agtech innovation: the key driver against global warming and climate change

For years, the planet has suffered the impact of climate change, with severe consequences for humanity and life in general. In this regard, the World Meteorological Organization predicts, for the period 2021-2025, that: 

  • There is a 40% probability that the annual mean global temperature will temporarily reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year in this period.
  • 90% probability that at least one year in this period will become the warmest on record in history.

In this context, the “global warming” alert is more than relevant. The increase in global temperature leads to thawing, higher sea levels, and meteorological phenomena such as heatwaves, floods, droughts, and storms, among other extreme and unpredictable weather conditions that pose a risk factor for agriculture compromise food safety.

In fact, the evidence points out that global agricultural productivity has been 21% lower than it would have been without climate changeFortunately, and thanks to innovation, digitalization, and artificial intelligence (AI), today’s technological solutions make it possible to optimize agriculture in this context.

Building agro-technology companies: the key to solving the problem

The Agtech sector, understood as the group of technological innovations seeking to solve problems and challenges in the agri-food industry, has grown significantly in recent years. For example, in Latin America alone, research in 2019 by the Inter-American Development Bank identified 457 startups in this sector, a market expected to reach $41,172.5 Million by 2027.

Agtech companies offer solutions that can create positive environmental, social, and economic changes. Thanks to technology, this type of endeavor can help combat climate change and reduce emissions of polluting gases, promoting sustainable agriculture.

In this regard, it is worth highlighting the work of the following startups and companies:

TrackitAgro (precision agriculture)

According to the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA): precision agriculture refers to:  

A management strategy that gathers, processes, and analyzes temporal, spatial and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions according to the estimated variability, and thus improve efficiency in the use of resources, productivity, the quality, profitability and sustainability of agricultural production.”

In practice, this is achieved thanks to the deployment of IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, satellite navigation systems, and analytical platforms with artificial intelligence capable of processing huge volumes of data.

And this is precisely what TrackitAgro offers. It is a Startup that provides a management platform for the monitoring and traceability of agricultural processes. Basically, IoT sensors are installed in crops, greenhouses, nurseries, refrigerators, and packing, which collect information 24/7 to measure various environmental and soil variables such as humidity, temperature, CO2, photosynthetic radiation, irrigation flows, electrical conductivity, PH and luminosity, among others.

This information, along with meteorological data uploaded to the cloud, the behavior history, and predictive analysis with artificial intelligence, allows farmers to have a global view of the operation and make decisions in real-time in the face of climatic contingencies throughout the cultivation cycle and supply chain. 

Research from the World Economic Forum suggests that if 15-25% of farms adopt this technology, global yields could increase by 10-15% by 2030, while emissions of polluting gases and water use could be reduced by 10% and 20%, respectively.

Aleph Farms (lab-grown meat)

Within the agri-food industry, livestock activity is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. In addition, between 75% and 80% of the world’s agricultural surface area is used to produce livestock feed, accounting for the enormous impact of this sector on the planet.

Lab-grown meat, created from cells and not from livestock, is the solution to this problem, and Aleph Farms is one of the leading startups in the field.

Aleph Farms is a leading Startup in this sector. Known for growing meat in space and printing the world’s first no-sacrifice steak, it has now raised more than $100 million to market its cultured meat next year, which has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, land use by more than 90% and water use by 50%

Also, it is projected that by employing 100% renewable energy in the production facility, cultured meat can reduce the carbon footprint of beef production by 92%.

Solid rain (polymers as irrigation systems)

Climate change has caused, among other things, that dry seasons are more extreme, which turns into a challenge for farmers, who must deal with droughts or with very little water availability.

In this scenario, the Solid Rain startup is the ideal solution for growing crops with little water by reducing irrigation frequency by up to 90%

It is a potassium-based granular powder, not soluble, degradable and non-toxic, with the capacity to absorb up to 400 times its weight in water once it comes into contact with it. The farmer places it at the root and thus keeps it hydrated without periodic watering or rainfall.

PolyNatural (organic fruit coating)

Food waste during the supply chain translates into business losses and affects global warming because food production and consumption account for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

If humanity managed to use 100% of agricultural products, emissions would be reduced considerably—all the above without considering the expenses in fresh water and soil damage entailed by this activity. 

In this regard, organic coatings stand as the ideal solution to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, controlling the growth of microorganisms and dehydration. In this way, products are more likely to reach the consumer’s table before they are spoiled, significantly reducing food waste and carbon footprint.

PolyNatural is a leading company in this market. Its coatings are made from 100% organic, plant-based components and are completely customized to ensure the best performance based on the type of fruit.  

This startup has saved more than 157,041 m³ of water and avoided the waste of 273.6 tons of fruit in 2020, accounting for how it can optimize the profitability of investments and become a real contribution to the difficult task of creating a more sustainable agricultural industry.

Finally, it should be noted that the pandemic coincided with the hottest year to date, 2020, with 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average—this exposed vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of the food system and global supply chains. Here, technologies and innovation are the keys to reducing the impending global warming.

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