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Journey Towards A Sustainable Agri-Food Supply Chain

Meet the top 15 agri tech startups and innovators named at SustainableAg Asia Challenge, a compelling initiative by Rabobank to promote integrity and interconnectivity across Asia’s vital agriculture and food supply chains.

“Agriculture in Asia is characterized by smallholders cultivating in small plots of land. Fragmentation remains the biggest challenge in building up robust agriculture supply chains. New generation agri tech companies are now using the best in class technology to address the upstream and midstream issues of virtually integrating farmers and facilitating sustainable business relationships with agriculture markets and financial institutions,” says Alaïs Faucon​, Sustainable Solutions Development Manager, Asia at Rabobank.

Indeed, most smallholder farmers are working with only one hectare of land or less, says Kohei Sakata of Bayer​, a global enterprise based in Germany and a SustainableAg Asia Challenge partner, yet they are responsible for producing up to 70 percent of the world’s food consumption.

Sakata adds that by nature, agriculture utilizes other natural resources such as water, land and soil and the industry needs to be smart when using those resources. As the population increases, arable land decreases, placing the need to produce more with fewer resources and in this context, sustainability becomes increasingly necessary. “We have to secure a sustainable food production , not only for our generation but for the next generations to come,” he said.

This is where Rabobank, a global pioneer in food and agri banking, leads the way through its laudable SustainableAg Asia Challenge. Rabobank, is focused on finding innovative solutions to ensure a more efficient, sustainable agri-food supply chain.

The 15 shortlisted startups will pitch at Rabobank’s SustainableAg Asia Challenge in Singapore on the 10th ​of October 2019. The shortlisted start-ups are in the running to winning a cash prize from a pool of US$20,000 at Pitch Day plus an exclusive invitation to pitch and present at Rabobank Asia’s annual Food & Agribusiness Advisory Board Meeting in Shanghai on 31 October 2019.

“Whilst the 138 solutions put forth addressed pain points along the food value chain, data and technology driven solutions took the lead in the submissions received,” adds Alaïs Faucon. Submissions included various technology-enabled service platforms, a farmer-friendly financing solution, a digital credit solution, a smallholder financing option and a satellite imagery and mobile solution to digitize farms

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The impact of the SustainableAg Asia Challenge

According to Dheeraj Mehta of Temasek​, an investment company headquartered in Singapore and a SustainableAg Asia Challenge partner, the demand for safer food, more sustainable food and more nutritious food present a huge opportunity for companies in the food and agri supply chain. “As we need to produce more with fewer resources, there is a need for innovation to simplify this complex supply chain and improve trust and visibility in it.”

Mehta adds that when shopping in a grocery store, most consumers do not fully realize what it takes for each food and beverage product to be made available on the shelves.

One retailer, however, can summarize why Mehta’s point is so important. “Today, customers expect exotic food, they want it fresh on their plates and they want it throughout the year,” says Sanjay Jain​, CFO of Future Group​, India’s foremost retailer of food and other consumer products and a SustainableAg Asia Challenge partner 

Frederick Groth​, Managing Director of COFCO International​, headquartered in Switzerland and a SustainableAg Asia Challenge partner, adds that consumers expect to know where their food comes from, and “I think modern technology today will allow them to go into supermarket shelves and figure out where their products are coming from and if they are sustainably produced.”

And as Asia’s population continues to grow from 4.6 billion currently to 5.3 billion by 2050, there is a pressing need for sustainable farming practices, traceability, food safety, data integrity & sharing and/or improving access to markets.

 

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15 Groundbreaking Ideas

The 15 shortlisted companies are (in alphabetical order):

  1. 8villages ​(Indonesia​). This ICT company provides a complete platform of ecosystem using different services to empower communities in the world of agriculture – www.8villages.com
  2. AgNext​ (India​). Builds advanced data-driven value chains that transform how we cultivate, procure, trade, store and consume food – www.agnext.com
  3. Beijing ICAN Technology​ (China​). An agricultural comprehensive service platform focusing on intelligent crop planting and decision-making – www.icanag.com
  4. Bric Agriculture Information Technology​ (China​). Provides services in various areas from commodity trading & I/E, finance & investment, brand management * marketing, and technology adoptions – www.accfutures.com
  5. CropIn Technology Solutions​ (India​). Uses ground, weather and satellite data to help agribusinesses de-risk their supply chains through real-time monitoring and making data-driven decisions – www.cropin.com
  6. DeHaat​ (India​). The technology enabled platform currently provides complete end-to-end services to more than 170,000 Indian farmers from "Seed to Market" with a goal of expanding to a million by 2022 – www.agrevolution.in
  7. EM3 Agriservices​ (India​). Helps increase agricultural productivity by bringing technology and mechanization to farming communities on a Pay-for-Use basis – www.em3agri.com
  8. FarMart​ (India​). Helps smallholder farmers obtain access to low-cost digital credit by linking credit to purchase of farm inputs at merchant points – www.farmart.co
  9. FarmGuide​/Lennon Agitech​ (India​). Uses satellite imagery and mobile technology to digitize farms and farmers, providing agriculture insights and risk ratings on a single platform; Building an Agri data stack for the world – www.farmguide.in
  10.  Glife Technologies (Singapore). An Agtech B2B e-commerce platform that connects farmers with HORECA (hotel, restaurants & café) businesses. Glife intends to overlay technology across the agriculture supply chain to improve productivity and efficiency – www.glife.com.sg
  11. Jai Kisan​ (India​). Facilitates capital to under-banked and under-served rural emerging markets ensuring a low cost of capital and record low turnaround time with minimal documentation for the borrower – www.jai-kisan.com/main
  12. Longcom Internet-of-Things​ (China​). China's first end-to-end smart agricultural provider, with an IoT solution bringing higher efficiency and income to farmers, enabling a traceable, efficient and sustainable food supply chain – www.lkwlw.com
  13. Mcfly​ (China​). A smart agricultural service provider focusing on the intelligent monitoring technology of visual spectroscopy as the core to create a precise and scientific agricultural technology system and standards – www.mcfly.com.c​ 
  14. PT Crowde Membangun Bangsa​ (Indonesia​). An agri-focused financial technology start-up that empowers farmers with technology and capital through a farmer-friendly financing ecosystem; growing business, creating employment, and supporting local communities – www.crowde.co
  15. Stellapps Technologies​ (India​) A full-stack IoT company that drives digitization of the dairy sector to significantly enhance income, profitability and yield per cow for farmers in emerging economies – www.stellapps.com

The Challenge is supported by Rabo Foundation​, and in partnership with food and agriculture companies Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)​, Bayer, COFCO International, Future Group,​ and Olam International​,  and eco-system partners ADB Ventures, Bits & Bites​, DSM​ and Temasek​, who are Judges.

Find out more about the SustainableAg AsiaChallenge​ by Rabobank at www.sustainableag.asia