Developing and Investing in Agricultural Technology
In preparation for its 2018 Cracking the Nut conference, which will focus on Promoting the Adoption of Agricultural Technologies and Resilience, Connexus organized an AskAg Chat on “Facilitating and Financing Agricultural Technologies” on April 26, 2018. The session showcased some of Cracking the Nut 2018’s plenary panel presenters speaking about identifying and vetting agricultural technologies that offer the potential to be scaled up with investment. April Thompson of KDAD opened by mentioning that “simple technologies can make a huge difference in farm productivity,” and the technologies highlighted also improve resilience for farmers and the environment. Gregory Watson of the Inter-American Development Bank shared examples of investments in agroforesty and silvopastoral systems, such as PESCA in Brazil, that have helped to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation. Sean Peters, CEO of DryGro, noted how his firm uses new technology to grow cost-effective animal feed on dry land in arid areas of Kenya. Below is a quick summary of some of the take-aways from the online discussion:
To identify ag technologies, Daniel Granada shared that as an impact investor, Pomona Impact works with universities, accelerators and development organizations. Melissa Matlock of Connexus mentioned the importance of human-centered design and co-creation with target users to ensure successful uptake by smallholders and address cultural and gender adaptations.
To vet ag technologies, Shaun Ferris explained how Catholic Relief Services utilizes a tool to test ag technologies to ensure they are sustainable, profitable and equitable.
To assess new technologies, SNV considers the technical, commercial and cultural feasibility; the product/market combinations; the business model and its ability to achieve scale; and the technology’s ability to improve climate smart productivity and resilience. To invest in ag tech, Pomona Impact looks for companies with solid knowledge of their market and sales – checking to see who actually pays for the technology and how.
One recurring theme was the need to go slow to go far – piloting first before trying to scale up and making sure technologies are tested with and adapted for the appropriate market segments.
Other participants shared useful resources such as a video on how to effectively partner with the private sector in development and a Transformational Innovation Scan used to identify top innovations in post-harvest losses.
Please join us for Cracking the Nut 2018 in Guatemala June 12-13, 2018 to learn more about these and additional climate-smart technologies, including traceability and commercialization platforms for sustainable fisheries in Chile from ShellCatch, affordable biodigesters in Mexico from Sistema Biobolsa and rainwater harvesting technology in Honduras from Mexichem and CARE. Register now as registration ends May 11, 2018!