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From Dirt to Dish: Rethinking Food Production and Consumptionย ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Written byย Marcus Parade onย Digilahย (Tech Thought Leadership)

๐‹๐ž๐ญย ๐ฎ๐ฌย ๐ข๐ฆ๐š๐ ๐ข๐ง๐žย ๐ฐ๐žย have over 8 billion gorilla’s ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฆ living on our planet โ€“ would you say we have an overpopulation of gorillas?

As I find overpopulation very visible on our planet, the question arises, how can we feed all our people more sustainable, if our population worldwide is estimated by the UNO to be around 10 billion by the year 2050?

๐ƒ๐ž๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐งย ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซย ๐Ÿ๐จ๐จ๐:

๐ˆย ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌย ๐ฐ๐š๐ฅ๐ค๐ข๐ง๐ ย ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐กย ๐šย dearย ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐ย strolling through endless acres of golden cornfields stretching as far as the eye can seeย ๐ŸŒฝ๐ŸŒฝ

He said: “Oh Marcus, it feels so nice to be outside here in lovely nature?!”

I also love walking along golden cornfields and yet the fields feel to me only partly being in nature. Putting it baldly, we were also walking in simple production fields for farming products. We didn’t see animals nor insects.

๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒดย ๐ƒ๐ž๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐งย ๐ก๐š๐ฌย ๐›๐ž๐ž๐งย going on steadily since the last 10.000 years and an end is not in sight. The crazy race for more farmland, driven by climate change and an ever-growing population, is a ticking time bomb that is likely to trigger ecological collapse on a global scale.

1st. circle is from 10.000 years ago. 2nd. circle from 300 years ago. 3rd. circle from 5 years ago.

The question is, how do we feed all people, as further deforestation for more farmlands can in my opinion not be the solution.

In turn, around 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted every year. Where does it all go?

It is lost during production or wasted at the consumer level. At the same time around 10 % of our world population are starving.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญย ๐œ๐š๐งย ๐ฐ๐žย ๐๐จย ๐›๐ž๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ?

We can change our consumer behaviour, as the production such as for meat needsย ๐„๐๐Ž๐‘๐Œ๐Ž๐”๐’ย amounts of more energy, water, space as well as emissions into our atmosphere. AND, less than only 20% of our worldwide farmlands are used for the direct consumption by us humans.

A staggering 80% of our planet’s farmland is devoted to livestock feed, biofuels, and other non-food crops, leaving precious little for direct human consumption.

๐–๐žย ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ย ๐›๐ž๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซย ๐ž๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ข๐ž๐ฌย ๐ข๐งย ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซย ๐Ÿ๐จ๐จ๐ย ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐๐ฎ๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐งย ๐š๐ญย ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅย ๐ฅ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฌ.

New agricultural technologies can be game changers such as:

1.๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ’งย More precise watering solutions directly reaching the roots

2.ย ๐Ÿšœ๐Ÿ›ฐย Better efficient machines with more precision farming

3.ย ๐ŸŒฑโ˜ฃย Biotechnology with genetic modification of plants to protect them better and produce more.ย ๐ˆ๐งย ๐š๐๐๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐งย bacteria can be created producing nutrients like proteins.

4.ย ๐Ÿ’ก๐ŸŽฒย Use of AI (artificial intelligence):

AI-poweredย ๐๐ซ๐จ๐ง๐ž๐ฌย ๐š๐ง๐ย ๐ซ๐จ๐›๐จ๐ญ๐ฌย ๐Ÿค–ย ๐œ๐š๐งย ๐›๐žย your farm’s new best friends – they collect real-time data on crop yields, plant health, and soil moisture levels. It’s like having a personal assistant who knows everything about your plants.

Self-driving tractorsย ๐Ÿšœย and drones can be equipped withย ๐€๐ˆ-๐ฉ๐จ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ย ๐ฌ๐ž๐ง๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ฌย ๐ญ๐จย optimize crop planting, fertilizing, and harvesting. With their precision and efficiency, they can help reduce labour costs and increase productivity.

AI can be like the ultimateย ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ฒย ๐œ๐ก๐š๐ข๐งย ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐žย ๐Ÿ•ต. It can analyse all data from the very beginning up to table to help optimize logistics and reduce waste. It’s like having a personal assistant who knows everything about your plants and how they travel to us.

When it comes to crop monitoring, AI has aย ๐ž๐š๐ ๐ฅ๐žย ๐ž๐ฒ๐žย ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ย that even most farmers can’t beat.. AI peering deep into the heartย ๐Ÿ’šย of crops to detect even the slightest signs of disease or pests, empowering farmers to take proactive measures and safeguard their precious yields.

Around 70% of our freshwater is frozen, around 29% is groundwater and the rest is surface water. Source of chart: Netafim

๐€๐ง๐ย ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅย ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌย ๐›๐žย ๐ž๐ง๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก?

Improving the production of food on our planet Earthย ๐ŸŒย is a complex issue that involves various stakeholders including farmers, governments, researchers, and consumers.

While overpopulation remains one of our main challenges is the production of our food a central challenges for our common future of our climate and us humans.

Let’s embrace our future and change for better sustainability and life.ย ๐Ÿ’›๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒž

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Climate Tech

Energy Tech startups need more support

Written by Beth Henderson on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

You believed in us and completely changed the trajectory of our startup” A startup that Iโ€™d been working with once told me this after theyโ€™d come through an accelerator program I was involved with. This startup almost didn’t make it onto the program because they couldn’t clearly articulate their business model or value proposition. But I took a chance on them even though I didn’t really understand their solution, because I had a gut feeling the founding team were something special.

This got me thinking, how many start-ups in the past have invented complex hardware technology with the potential to solve some of the biggest problems we face today, but never succeeded to commercialise? There are a multitude of reasons why startups fail, but it pains me to think that incredible technology is out there sitting dormant because its technical founder couldn’t quite pitch it right, or understand the right market to target or the angle for the value proposition.

More support is needed for early stage technical founders who are struggling to get the business side right. Particularly for climate and energy tech, where the technology can be highly complex and it’s higher risk for investors and industry to get commercially engaged without demonstrated traction.

So what can the startup support ecosystem do more of to help these founders succeed?

Over my past 5 years of being involved with energy-tech startup accelerator programs, below are the top three responses on the things that had the biggest impact on accelerating their growth:

  1. Learning a structured method for customer discovery and sharpening the value proposition: This was the number one most impactful outcome for startups. It’s traditionally been an area only taught in marketing degrees but education in this space is highly needed for technical startup founders. Early stage founders have often told me hiring a marketing person is something they can only afford once they start getting decent revenue, but getting to that point is so hard without the skills to talk to customers in a way to understand their pain points, then frame your value proposition in a way that directly addresses those. I’ve seen so many ‘aha’ moments from founders who started out overloading on jargon and buzzwords when trying to sell, then swap to a message that clearly addresses a customer problem in simple terms.
  2. Relentless pitch practice and feedback: During our programs, founders deliver their pitch to different audiences 10-15 times, each time getting valuable feedback from our pitch coaches and adding new learnings. The main takeaway is that they should be able to go into any investor or customer meeting and have a clear and compelling story that they know back-to-front and can deliver with confidence. Early stage founders canโ€™t outsource sales, so it’s critical for them to learn this skill as they will continue to struggle to make a business out of their technology if they can’t sell the vision for it.
  3. Connections for mentorship: There are a lot of intelligent and successful people out there who are willing to help founders, they just need the right channels to find each other. More dedicated channels to aggregate mentors and startups in specific verticals, and oversee the success of mentor matching are needed. Having access to corporate industry experts to help validate assumptions in a no-pressure environment has been instrumental to helping accelerate the startups’ growth.

The elements I’ve described above don’t take millions of dollars to implement but can make a huge difference in helping to accelerate getting game-changing technology to market. So, if youโ€™re in any capacity to support startups, consider these areas to focus your efforts. 

And where is that startup from the start of the story now? They’ve done over 30 customer interviews, completely overhauled their value proposition messaging, their pitch is unrecognisable from the first version and they’ve just been awarded the โ€˜Most Disruptive Renewable Energy Startup in South East Asiaโ€™ by a major publication.