Across the Editor’s Desk
Which technology holds the next moment of impact for your operation?
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview PepsiCo’s Mehmood Khan and Cargill’s Jill Kolling. While you may think these two individuals have little in common, the fact is, they both represent companies working to bring innovation to agriculture to help produce a safe, abundant, sustainable, and nutritious food supply.
“We will have 2 billion more mouths to feed by 2050, which means food demand will go up by 30% to 40% in the next 30 years,” says Khan. “It’s going to take several players to improve efficiency and productivity; while at the same time, ensuring we reduce agriculture’s environmental impact.”
By bringing together technologists, agriculturalists, academics, investors, and hopefully policy-makers, notes Khan, we can start to ask questions and share ideas on what the next generation of biological technology for plant breeding could be, what the best practices for growing a crop are, how we create full-scale crops that are more nutritious, how we effectively disseminate that nutrition, and how we eliminate food waste.
As myriad stakeholders in the value chain come together to tackle the complex challenges in agriculture, the issues facing technology adoption also come to light.
“There are a number of innovative ideas coming from ag tech start-ups,” Kolling says. “What everyone has to understand is that we can’t push these technologies on farmers. Just as we have to bring consumers along in the journey of how their food is produced, we have to take the same approach with farmers. We have to help them understand how a technology can truly benefit their business.”
Achieving that in an industry steeped in tradition will be no small feat. Yet, it has been said that tradition should not be something that holds you back, but rather the launching pad of innovation for the future. As you flip through the pages of this special issue, I challenge you to consider the implications that at least one of these 13 ideas could have on your business.
Will it be blockchain to better track your crop (p. 44)? Will it be gene-edited livestock resistant to disease (p. 8)? Will it be a new breed of wheat (p. 18)? Will it be a platform to purchase your inputs (p. 56) or to market your grain online (p. 60)? No matter which of the 13 innovations you choose to learn more about, let’s explore the possibilities together. As Khan notes, “All of us are
smarter than any one of us.”