Why Innovate if AgriTech was the Only Sector that Grew in this Pandemic?

Why innovate when we are doing so well? Of course, some area of the agricultural sector, and some regions have suffered a lot due to the pandemic, the drought, and are still feeling it. But, in general, it grew because it is essential, and that is why it did not stop in this pandemic. While the Industry GDP in the 1st quarter fell 1.4%, and Services fell 1.6%, the Agribusiness GDP grew 0.6%.

So, why innovate when we are doing so well? Why innovate, if we stay in our comfort zone, will we continue to grow? Or why should we be prepared for a recession that lasts longer than we imagined? Why do we never stop thinking about how to do better? Or why have the Brazilian farmers and stockmen never had the financial, tax and incentive  protections that well-supported first world farmers around the world? And, on the other hand, compared to small farmers in countries like Asia and Africa, how did the Brazilian farmers understand so quickly that scale was essential to produce commodities, and have structured themselves to grow?

When the Brazilian farmers grow, structure and integrate processes, when they adopt new technologies proven by research institutes and private companies, when they become professional and use governance tools, they are innovating. And, as a side-effect, they are keeping the new generations motivated to stay in the field, to study, and to continue innovating even more.

Brazilian agriculture is already entrepreneurial and innovative, but it cannot stop innovating. And the range of possibilities navigates through several other technologies, that seem so far from the agriculture sector.

Here are the main domains of general technological innovation (not only Agribusiness):

  • Chemistry, formulations, nutrients, inoculants, nanotechnology, plant stimulants and physiology
  • Sustainability, management, precision agriculture, clean energy, wind, solar, nuclear fusion, water use management and waste management, meteorology, irrigation, bioenergy, preservation of biodiversity and environment and recycling
  • Animal nutrition, health and welfare
  • Communication, 5G and connection across the farm to enable monitoring, integrated management, remote sensing, autonomous stores, e-­commerce, marketplace, trading platforms and retail management
  • Transport of people and products, equipment, uprights, drones, electric, autonomous vehicles, hyperloop and even space travel
  • Genomics, biotechnology, biohacking, crispr, gene editing, seeds, seedlings, biological control, innovative foods, biofortification and bio-­inputs
  • Artificial intelligence, IoT Internet of things, big data, machine learning, blockchain, robotics, telemetry, supercomputers, quantum computing and qubits. And all its combinations and possibilities for Agricultural and related sectors, such as financial, credit, educational, traceability and food security, that are all linked to agribusiness.
  • Virtual, augmented, immersive reality and image recognition (which belong to this group and several others).
  • 3D printing, additive manufacturing

There are so many innovative areas. The biggest difficulty was separating into blocks. Because some technologies are related to several others. And that is where more innovations will emerge, and changes will happen even faster. Are you going to continue innovating? Or do you feel lost having so many possibilities? I suggest you take this list and separate those innovations that can impact your business. Positively or negatively. And think about what you will do to capture this positive impact or counteract the negative impact. But do not dwell on technologies, as they are simple tools, although they do not seem that simple. Think about the results that these technologies offer. They will impact your business.

For example: there is no point in knowing that blockchain is a shared and immutable ledger for recording transactions, tracking assets and building trust. What matters is that the blockchain can eliminate many intermediaries or greatly decrease their importance.

We know that quantum computing works from the qubit, which is a particle of subatomic level. The data processing capacity will be infinitely greater and faster. Therefore, you must digitalize all your data now, so that 10, 20 or 30 years from now we will have all this history and can successfully manage our businesses.

The ability to innovate is extremely linked to the longevity and success of companies. And consequently, to the success of the whole Agribusiness.

By Fabiane Astolpho, Senior Business Associate, Fruto Agrointeligencia