Revolutionizing Agriculture: Exploring the Potential of AgTech

In the face of climate change, environmental degradation, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the imperative to develop resilient food security systems and decentralized supply chains has never been more urgent. With the global population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the United Nations warns that sustaining our current way of life would require the resources of almost three planets. This necessitates a transformative shift in our approach to agriculture, leading us to explore the realm of AgTech – Sustainable Agriculture Technologies.

Transforming Tradition into Tech

In the midst of these challenges, the emergence of AgTech offers a glimmer of hope. This evolving sector aims to revolutionize farming from a labor-intensive profession into a technology-driven career. By integrating big data management, smart sensors, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics, AgTech has the potential to enhance efficiency, precision, and resilience in agriculture. Beyond these improvements, the sector holds promises of addressing longstanding issues within traditional farming.

Addressing Industry Challenges

Traditional farming faces numerous sustainability and reliability issues, including an aging and shrinking workforce, inefficient harvesting practices, extensive water resource usage, large-scale land cultivation, and wasteful food transportation practices. Approximately $1 trillion worth of food goes to waste annually due to poor industry practices. AgTech is poised to disrupt these problems, demanding a new image for the farming industry and prompting a shift in public perception of agriculture.

A Technological Evolution

Contrary to the conventional image of a farmer with a pitchfork and tractor, the new era of agriculture, fuelled by AgTech, is marked by “smart” farming. Modern farmers can manage their operations through mobile apps, pilot drones, and leverage sensors and machine learning capabilities. Furthermore, agriculture is no longer confined to vast countryside fields; technological advancements enable food production indoors, even in urban environments and the International Space Station.

Redefining City Landscapes

AgTech’s advancements offer solutions to combat inner-city food deserts by enabling innovative food growing practices under previously impossible conditions. The integration of rooftop farms, indoor facilities, and vertical farming creates new opportunities for local communities and businesses. Warehouses, abandoned shopping malls, and multistory parking garages can be repurposed into urban micro-farms, fostering a greener urban landscape and a new farming ecosystem.

Aligning with Sustainable Development Goals

AgTech not only addresses current farming conglomerates but aligns significantly with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nine out of the 17 SDGs can benefit from AgTech development, making it an industry that resonates with environmentally conscious Millennials and Gen Z. These demographics, known for actively supporting values in business models, present a significant opportunity for AgTech companies to thrive.

Millennials and Gen Z as AgTech Allies

Millennials and Gen Z consider sustainable farmers as the new heroes of food production. As digital natives, they can play a pivotal role in shaping the future AgTech workforce. A study on Millennials in the workplace reveals that 94% are willing to use their skills for a cause, and AgTech companies engaging these demographics now stand to benefit in the long run.

Investing in AgTech’s Stable Future

Investing in AgTech represents a stable and predictable market, considering the inevitable growth of the world population and the corresponding increase in the demand for food. To secure long-term success, AgTech must effectively communicate its values and environmental benefits to Millennials and Gen Z, bridging the gap in the critical skills shortage within the industry.

The World Needs AgTech:

Unlike previous tech disruptions focused on consumer convenience or entertainment, the AgTech industry disruption prioritizes something far more critical – our collective survival. When considering where to invest or lend support, it is essential to recognize the significance of AgTech. Our future, quite literally, depends on it.

Dr Gjoko Muratovski
Chief Academic Officer
8th Feb 2024