Shaping the future of food tech in San Francisco

Last March, we took part in the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit (WAIS) in San Francisco with the intention of engaging the agri-business sector in improving the sustainability of food’s first mile through our traceability software as a service (SaaS).

We’re now proud to share that our mission was successful. Besides satisfying our hunger for the latest developments in agtech innovation, Farmforce boosted its brand awareness and planted the seed for growing new business opportunities.

Here, we’ll dive into our disruptive participation in this food tech congress and how it’s going to impact the future of sustainable agriculture. An attentive partner, not just a software provider.

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Picture: Chris Constantine

A fruitful brainstorming session on agtech

While positioning ourselves as food supply chain experts, our ever-growing company strives to learn day by day. Although googling “agtech” will bring up countless results, there are some hard-to-access insights that you can gain only in events like WAIS. Even more so now that we are coming back to relish in-person meetings.

A retro, yet more direct chat over a cup of coffee led to an inspiring conversation about how Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled sensors can help farmers increase their crop yield. For instance, by gathering real-time weather data, these devices would let growers spot any potential issues such as disease-causing pathogens or pest infestations. Integrating these data into our agricultural supply chain software will strengthen its yield forecasting potential. Also, by monitoring water and nutrients level, sensors can improve soil health. Not to mention this agtech could detect any contamination or inconsistency in the harvest along its first-mile journey, thus enhancing its quality and production traceability.

You top up your cuppa and next thing you know someone is talking about how harmless drones can help combat deforestation. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can effortlessly reach remote forests and take snapshots of them. Providing images with a higher resolution than those of satellites, drone imagery can generate accurate tree coverage maps that can be overlayed with Farmforce field plots to check whether crops are forest-friendly.

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Picture: Chris Constantine

Yet, the “Food Transparency & Resilience Powered by Technology” panel discussion was the highlight of our WAIS contribution. That is where our CEO, Anne Jorun Aas, brought food’s first mile to the agri-business table, stressing that traceability in the food supply chain should start at the farm level.
But what does it take for a food supply chain technology to power traceability and sustainability?

But what does it take for a food supply chain technology to power traceability and sustainability?
There are 3 essential ingredients a technology recipe for sustainable agriculture should have:

  • An efficient data collection and management
  • Security (e.g., no data loss/corruption, GDPR compliance)
  • User-friendliness & robustness (i.e., applicable to all crops and geographies)

The icing on the crop is that agtech should blend in with the agricultural real world. This is why Farmforce has developed a supply chain visibility software that understands the agricultural value chain development, the market operators, and how they’ll use our tool to fulfill their needs.

However, opportunities like WAIS also remind us about interoperability, which is another essential element that could mitigate food supply chain risks. In fact, rather than focusing on only one component of the food supply chain, agri-business stakeholders should come together to come up with an integrated solution. By sharing data and defining harmonized standards, the cooperation of all agtech players would boost traceability progress. With this goal in mind, Farmforce is willing to align other traceability standard providers across the agricultural value chain, thus spearheading farm-to-fork interoperability.

Aside from the role played by agtech, consumers’ increasing appetite for sustainability and stricter regulations are two other major drivers that will catalyze visibility across the agricultural supply chain. However, opportunities like WAIS also remind us about interoperability, which is another essential element that could mitigate food supply chain risks. In fact, rather than focusing on only one component of the food supply chain, agri-business stakeholders should come together to come up with an integrated solution. By sharing data and defining harmonized standards, the cooperation of all agtech players would boost traceability progress. With this goal in mind, Farmforce is willing to align other traceability standard providers across the agricultural value chain, thus spearheading farm-to-fork interoperability.

Mingling with the agri-business players

But we did not go all the way to San Francisco only to enrich our knowledge on agtech innovation. Obvious as it sounds, our primary objective was to gain international exposure. Based on the constant flow of people swarming in our stand, we can tell our food tech and its application on the first mile’s traceability sparked a lot of curiosity. We were glad to see that WAIS attendees resonated with our mission.

As a result, our networking was extremely productive. We forged promising relationships with both direct users for our supply chain management SaaS and agri-business partners for potential collaborations around the world.

For example, we could feed our first-mile intelligence to a company’s data-driven insights platform that helps MNCs meet their carbon neutrality targets and climate disclosure requirements. This would allow crop exporters to implement sustainable food supply chain management. In connection with this, as highlighted in another conference panel, digital infrastructures like Farmforce could help design more efficient carbon markets to decarbonize the agri-business industry.

In addition, we’re tying in with an IoT company as we sense an opportunity for a joint project. Besides providing 80k sensors for the agricultural field, this firm extensively works with smallholder farmers, thus representing an ideal ally to supercharge the positive impact of our software for farm management.