Funding Innovation in Speciality Crops
There are billions of dollars every year invested into agtech startups. However, most of them have to show a large total addressable market. So how are niche specialty crops funding innovation? Produce Marketing Association vp of technology Vonnie Estes says often this comes from established companies investing internally or through partnerships.
Estes… “There's a great partnership that I'd love to talk about this with Church Brothers Farming Group here, and Bayer Crop Science, where they developed a broccoli that had a higher stem so that they can mechanically harvest it. One of the biggest problems with broccoli is that it doesn't mature all at the same time. So you have to go back in the field like five times. You know, and you think about the diesel that you use, the labor that you need, the soil compaction that you're having. If you only had to go in, you know, half the amount of time and you can mechanically harvest because it's got a taller stem, then that's a great savings.”
Estes says this is just one example of how some of these crops requiring specialized technology, like broccoli, are leveraging partnerships.
Estes… “The really big companies that can afford it and have the staff are putting a lot of money into R&D and a lot of the other companies are also partnering, so they can kinda direct the technology to really meet their needs.”
There is so much diversity in agriculture, that rarely will there be one technology that serves all crops and geographies.