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Top Ten Takeouts: The role of AgTech in Food Secuirty

30 May 2017 14:40 | Deleted user

We’re a land abundant in food. In fact, we produce enough food today to feed around 60 million people. But that state of abundance can quickly diminish due to the very real threats of climate change and environmental factors, resource constraints and supply chain interruptions or contamination and disease.

Global food demand is forecast to increase 60% by 2060 and as the seventh largest global exporter of food we play a critical role in contributing to global food security. Massive innovation within the sector is required to deliver on this demand, a huge component of which will come from AgTech.

In this event we explored:

  • Food security challenges we face in Australia
  • The impact AgTech developments are having on these challenges – including improving yields, sustainable practices and nutritional value
  • How we can scale solutions to have a global impact
  • Barriers AgTech businesses are experiencing within the sector – including funding, collaboration with research institutions and access to farmers for testing and trials


Andrew Gregor - AWB Strategy & Business Development Manager, Cargill Australia
J. Matthew Pryor - CTO, Observant 
Sarah Last - CTO and Cofounder, MimicTec
Dr Markandeya Jois - Senior Lecturer at Latrobe University


  1. The key threats we face to our food security in Australia are lack of water, climate, provenance of food and the nutritional value of processed food.
  2. We need to engage primary producers as a part of the problem and encourage them to provide input, data and to engage in trials and research. The peak bodies representing farmers need to facilitate introductions to their member farmers for AgTech solution providers.
  3. A multi-disciplinary approach to food security is required. We need people from diverse backgrounds and fields thinking about food and agriculture. We need smart young people who are passionate about solving these problems.
  4. Recognition and promotions for researchers is currently based on publication of their papers, regardless of how well read these papers may be. Universities place too much focus on accountability and ROI. All this amounts to an incentive to avoid in engaging risk-taking research.
  5. AgTech solution providers often have a huge geographical challenge to overcome with most farms being at least a 2hour drive from where the technology is being developed and seasonal constraints mean there’s often only one test cycle available per year.
  6. We need new models to better match people who are good at solving problems, including that knowledge that sits inside our research institutions, with people who are good at building businesses.
  7. Traceability and provenance of food need to be demanded by consumers. As the cost of technology aiding this decreases, consumers need to voice their concerns as it’s not in the interest of major food retailers to do so.
  8. We need to encourage young people to pursue agriculture - “by going into agriculture, I will be solving our number 1 problem – how we feed the world”.
  9. We need the same level of industry and government support that the FinTech community has experienced. We need to get it on the government agenda, particularly in Victoria where Food & Fibre is our biggest export.
  10. Tell everyone you know that technology in agriculture is the most noble place you could put your money. Especially tell your super fund manager! What are you investing in that’s going to improve the sustainability of our food production systems in Australia? 

The full report is available for download by members or by contacting us directly.

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Melbourne, Victoria

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