AgriTech To Bring The Digital Edge to Farming

Technological innovation in agriculture could help attract younger talent and make farming more efficient.

Agri-tech in Indonesia-min

Fewer youngsters are pursuing farming as a profession compared to previous generations across the world. In Indonesia, only 23% of the country’s 14.2 million people, aged between 15 and 24 years, worked in the agriculture sector in 2019.

At the same time, we must not forget that, the global demand for food will double in the next 50 years. By 2050 alone, there will be 10 billion people on Earth, requiring 56% more food. The only way to plug the loopholes in agriculture is to bring technology to the table.

From drone-based agricultural land monitoring, remote pesticide spraying, and direct-to-customer sales, AgriTech platforms are helping farmers rediscover the love for farming by making it sustainable and efficient.

The smart agriculture market is expected to grow from $12.9 billion in 2021 to $ 20.8 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 10.1%. Here, Asian markets are expected to lead the growth with the technological prowess being adopted to maximise agricultural produce.

Impact statistics for deploying technology
$62 – 76 billionValue creation via mandi automation, B2B portals, online retail, farmer aggregation and hyperlocal connect
$34 – 42 billionDirect benefits to farmers from use of technology
75 – 91 millionFarmers will benefit from using the technology solutions
70% – 80%Farmer income increase in crop cultivation
50-60%Farm produce that will be sold online in 20 years.
Source: TechnoServe
Regional collaboration through agri-tech

Now is the time for sharing these innovations with the world. India’s agri-tech startup CropIn has partnered with True Digital Solutions to build an ecosystem of digital solutions for farmers in Southeast Asia.

As part of the agreement, CropIn will help digitise farmers’ data for better transparency, financial self-sufficiency, and efficient cultivation management. In addition, the companies will provide insights on weather, disease prediction and advisory, crop health, and streamline the supply chain. True Digital Solutions aims to impact 9,880 acres and six million farmers in Thailand through this partnership.

Thailand, in particular, has already taken a series of initiatives on the agri-tech front. Startups such as KoMoMi, Algaeba, ChikChic, Talad, and Ricult are helping farmers become more self-sufficient by weather monitoring, better irrigation systems, and pest disease management.

In fact, the country’s Thailand 4.0 initiative involves setting up ‘innovation districts’ to support the development of the country’s technological capabilities. AgriTech is included in this system as an important path to economic recovery.

In the Southeast Asian region, agriculture and allied activities are still the key economic activity, especially in markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.

SE Asian counterparts such as Indonesia and the Philippines have also taken steps to build the agri-tech ecosystem.

Learning from India’s Ninjacart, Indonesia’s TaniHub helps farmers earn more for their crops by streamlining distribution channels so there are fewer middlemen between farmers and the end customers. It now has more than 45,000 farmers and 350,000 buyers in its network. It also raised $65.5 million in Series B funding to fuel its expansion drive.

Indonesian entrepreneurs are also riding the blockchain wave to make farming easier. For example, blockchain-based data exchange platform Hara helps implement precision farming through remote sensing.

Technologies used in SE Asia’s AgriTech Economy
  • IoT Sensors and Crop Photography
  • Drones to monitor crops, send alerts and spray pesticides
  • Satellite-based sensors to predict weather changes
  • Automated irrigation systems with adjustable settings based on crop
  • Light and heat control for organic crops, horticulture, and poultry farming
  • Artificial intelligence to detect pests and predict crop diseases
  • Farm-to-table software for price discovery and direct sales

Government bodies have also played their part in the region to bridge the information gap. In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture is strengthening connectivity with farmers through the Fisheries and Agriculture Response Management (FARM) Citizens Application.

Apart from startups such as CloudFarm Innovations (IoT-led heat control), Agridom (drone-based fertiliser) and pesticide spraying and Krops (B2B app connecting farmers and buyers), the Philippines also has a venture to crowdfund agriculture through a platform called Cropital.

Neighbour Vietnam is a recent agri-tech convert and is using artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT) to drive viable farming practices. Here, startups such as MimosaTEK, Sero, and Hachi are bringing change to the region by learning from other Asian successes.

Closer the connections, better will be the farmer-focussed inventions. To deepen the impact of the initiatives, cross-country mobilisation of resources has already begun.

For instance, Indonesian agri-tech startup Semaai has raised $1.25 million in pre-seed funding to grow its engineering and product teams in India. Semaai is building a full-stack agri-tech solution for Indonesia’s rural agriculture communities.

Asian startups have already begun shaking the agriculture industry with their fresh ideas. Expanding to markets like Europe, Africa, and the Americas will be the next logical expansion.

Building a sustainable agricultural model for the world through a collaborative effort is what could enable a better future. The foundation and the building blocks have already been laid. Building replicable technology-led agriculture products that can be deployed across the globe will help create sustainable farming communities for centuries to come.

About the Author

Jun De Dios
EVP for Growth & Strategy | Profile

Jun De Dios is our EVP for Growth & Strategy and he is also our Country Manager for Philippines. Jun was the CEO for AkzoNobel in Vietnam from 2008-13, and then CEO in Indonesia, before being appointed Cluster Director for Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands over the period 2013-2019.