Despite the fundamental criticism, billions of dollars have established a new path for agricultural technology

The global food crisis has opened the door wide to questions about the future of the agricultural sector in the world, and perhaps one of the central questions in this context is the nature of the role that advanced technology and artificial intelligence can play in bringing about radical transformations . in one of the oldest professions known to man, which is agriculture.
Over thousands of years, man has used traditional means to plow and cultivate the land. Today, the landscape in the agricultural sector is different in a number of developed countries, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Germany. From the automation of equipment to data collection and analysis, the digital development of agriculture has become a reality.. life of the big farmers of those countries.
Robotic agriculture, using drones, data analytics and artificial intelligence, has become the future solution to address the most pressing global challenge in our contemporary world. How can we feed the growing numbers of our planet’s population while preserving the environment?
Of course, agricultural technology is still in its infancy in many places, but it goes without saying that the technologies that improve our productive farming methods will become more acceptable and attractive over time. can have of what he is going to harvest, as well as its quality.
On the other hand, agricultural engineer LK Alexander, that the limits of modern agricultural technology will not stop at the limits of ensuring the quality and quantity of the harvest, but it will enable us to face the biggest challenge related to cope with increasing agricultural production from less agricultural land.
He told Al-Eqtisadiah that “the United Nations now estimates the population of our planet at about 7.6 billion, and the number will reach 8.6 billion by 2030, and 9.8 billion by 2050, and by the end of the century we will reach 11.2 billion. The agricultural and reclaimed fields will in the future be sufficient to supply the inhabitants of the planet with their food needs.”
He added, “This would be unlikely given the current rates of production per hectare, and from here arises the fundamental importance of technology as the only guarantee for increasing agricultural production and avoiding extreme weather, soil loss and stress of soil and water resources technology and industrial robots will not be limited to narrowing the chances of production failure, but most importantly increase production.”
Indeed, the agricultural technology sector has historically not been a hotbed of investment and has been seen as an industry unlikely to generate significant returns, but with the growing realization of the importance of advanced technology in the future of agriculture, and with the growing demand for climate-friendly and food security investments, investors pumped $7.8 billion into agritech deals last year.
The data showed that about five billion dollars of this amount was directed to more than 440 deals to finance start-up companies working in the fields of production and development of industrial robots and advanced technology in agriculture, compared to $3.3 billion for 422 transactions in 2020.
Although the data for the current year is not yet available, the first month of the year saw strong indicators as it invested $1 billion in agritech startups, and one of the important investments was a $400 million investment in the agriculture startup Plenty , which has raised more than $940 million since 2014.
For his part, Dr Andrew Teller, professor of agricultural economics at the International Institute of Modern Agriculture, told Al-Eqtisadiah, “The question of why investors are suddenly putting their money in the field of agricultural technology has a recent path for many experts has become, and truth be told, there are a variety of drivers, therefore, such as changing consumer habits and needs and the profitability achieved from this type of investment.”
He added, “The use of advanced technology and robotics in the field of agriculture ensures a clear quality of production, noting that the habits of consumers, especially among the millennial generation, are shifting, and consumers are now more interested in what they eat. than ever before they look at the question of food taste and nutritional properties. Younger generations and growing environmental awareness increasingly focus on how food is produced, which has prompted companies to look for innovative ways to produce food such as genetics, fermentation and vertical farming .”
In fact, vertical farming is currently one of the most popular areas for investment in advanced technology in the agricultural field, and this agricultural style involves growing food on different levels that are stacked on top of each other, and this leads to the conservation of water and soil and allows the reduction of chemicals used in food production.
Some experts believe that the belief among investors at the international level is increasing that there are more investment opportunities in the high-tech sector in agriculture. Usually, agritech start-ups have had to rely on acquisition by a larger company as an exit strategy, and when there are more options Withdrawals there is usually more interest from investors.
It is interesting that there are increasing numbers of emerging economies in which the agricultural sector is one of the most important economic sectors, and they show a remarkable interest in the introduction of advanced technology and industrial robots in the agricultural field, despite their economies being characterized by labor intensity become .
Brazil is a clear model in this area. The agricultural technology sector in Brazil has flourished, and the number of Brazilian startups focusing on advanced agricultural technology has grown by 40 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
In turn, Dr. Carmen Bohan, a researcher in the field of ecological agriculture, told Al-Eqtisadiah: “Investment in the agritech sector shows no signs of slowing down at the international level, and investment in agritech start-ups has exceeded global investment capital markets across sectors with an increase of 6.8 percent year-on-year, and investments reached $4.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 370 percent, compared to the situation in 2013.
She added that contrary to the expectation that the spread of the Corona epidemic and its economic consequences would lead to a negative reality in the growth of investment in agricultural technology, the opposite has happened due to the growing awareness of the importance of agricultural technology in times of crisis. , so investments in this sector have grown significantly in the last two years.
But the case is not without fundamental criticism directed at digital agricultural technology and the use of robots in the field of agricultural production, since its high cost makes it the preserve of the owners of large agricultural areas and international multinational companies working in the field of agriculture . production, and it also widens the differences in profitability between its users and small farmers who depend on traditional production methods, weakening small farmers’ ability to compete with large agricultural landowners, driving them out of the market and ultimately leading to multinational corporations or large landlords small farmers buy land.
In this context, efforts are now being made to promote cooperative concepts among small farmers, to help them use this advanced technology not only in the field of production but also in the field of marketing through a farm-to -consumer concept, where these online platforms are a way for farmers to sell their products and deliver them directly to consumers. It meets the needs of consumers’ growing awareness of the importance of knowing food sources, while at the same time allowing farmers to compete with large companies on price by bypassing vegetable stores.
In turn, explained to “The Economist” Simon Farage, the official spokesman of the Agricultural Marketing Authority for the farmers of the English province of Kent, “We must look at agricultural digital technology as an integrated concept whose positive performance is not limited. only to the production process, but extends to the marketing process to ensure that small farmers have the ability to finance the high costs of digital farming.
He emphasized that farmers must have a digital bridge to new retail markets and pointed out that the experience in Europe has succeeded, as data showed a 23 percent increase in the total value of farm technology investments in Europe last year.
He pointed out that France is currently the leading country in continental Europe in this area, and that the volume of capital flowing to emerging agritech companies in France more than doubled last year, compared to what it was before the Corona epidemic , and this is due to the ability of agricultural cooperatives to establish The concept of inclusion in agricultural technology by linking the production and marketing process.

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