|San Jose, 24 May 2022 (IICA). – The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) will consolidate a network of startups in the Americas to foster and accelerate the digital transformation of agriculture and will organize a virtual roundtable to connect developers of technological solutions for the agriculture sector with investment funds or other organizations that would allow for leveraging their innovations.|
These actions form part of the roadmap that was drawn up at the end of the Digital Agriculture Week organized by IICA with the co-sponsorship of Bayer, Microsoft and the World Bank.
The event held at IICA Headquarters brought together 15 AgTechs (technology-based enterprises with a focus on the agriculture sector) from seven countries in the region, key players from the technology and agriculture sectors, high-level policymakers, donors, as well as representatives of multilateral and cooperation agencies, to provide them with an opportunity to engage in dialogue on the digital transformation of agrifood systems and disseminate technological solutions for use in agriculture.
“IICA is like a catalytic enzyme that makes things happen. The network is beginning to take its first steps, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can. In this regard, startups will play a leading role”, said the Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero.
The network is comprised of the following startups: Agroconsultas, Ecodrip, Milar, Origino, Wiagro, Appi.ar by Beemore and Gbot Solutions from Argentina; SIMA and Tarvos from Brazil; Neltume Agro and Frescapesca.com from Chile; BloomsPal Network from Colombia; AgtechApps from Guatemala; TheFarmerbox from Mexico; and AGROS from Peru (see box).
These AgTechs were selected from 80 companies (which would also be included in the network) that offer solutions for use in agriculture and that applied after a call was issued by IICA to participate, in person, in Digital Agriculture Week.
Otero added that the upcoming meeting of IICA’s Executive Committee in July, which will bring together a dozen ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, will shine the spotlight on the issues discussed during Digital Agriculture Week and the crucial role of startups in agricultural digitalization.
“At IICA, we are doing everything we can to establish linkages between various stakeholders and ensure that agricultural transformation becomes a key issue. We are committed to continuing to strengthen the network because it is a very noble cause; what is currently at stake is a better quality of life for everyone”, added the Director General.
The startups will also have the possibility of incorporating their technological solutions for use in IICA’s Member States, with the Institute serving as a bridge between these companies and the ministries of Agriculture; research, development and innovation institutes; and other interested entities and organizations.
“A preliminary idea is to host a roundtable between the startups, the Institute’s Delegations in the member countries and various important organizations. The digital transformation of agriculture is inevitable – it is going to happen sooner rather than later – and what we at IICA want to do is to foster and encourage this process to make it as dynamic and inclusive as possible”, explained Federico Bert, a specialist in Digital Agriculture at the hemispheric agency specializing in agricultural and rural development.
Another action that the Institute plans to undertake is conducting a study of the solutions presented by the 15 AgTechs in the face-to-face meeting, focusing on experiences, lessons learned and best practices with the aim of fostering the sector’s digitalization.
At IICA’s Interpretive Center for Tomorrow’s Agriculture (CIMAG), representatives of the startups were introduced to prototypes of technological innovations that can enhance agrifood systems.
Over the course of Digital Agriculture Week, more than 60 stakeholders delivered presentations and lectures to share their perspectives on the digital transformation of agriculture.
They agreed that digital solutions are crucial in order to overcome the current challenges facing agrifood systems, and that simple, low-cost technologies have tremendous potential to generate an impact, especially among small-scale producers.
“Working in unison, uniting markets, makes these companies more attractive”, noted Wilson País, Director of Digital Native Companies and Ecosystems at Microsoft Latin America.
Participants in the meeting also called for establishing synergies to prevent digital transformation from increasing gaps between farmers, to ensure that no one is left behind.
“What we need is to strike a balance and count on everyone’s collaboration”, said Laurens Klerkx, professor at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
At IICA headquarters, the 15 startups delivered presentations on their technological innovations and digital solutions to increase production and efficiency; minimize the environmental footprint; tackle climate change; utilize resources efficiently; boost trade, value chains and cooperation among stakeholders; and support farmers’ decisions and management at the productive, economic and financial levels.
“This week yielded two main benefits: engaging with other entrepreneurs who are facing the same challenges or problems, and meeting stakeholders, ministries, organizations and institutions that would otherwise or individually be very hard to reach, in order to scale up technological solutions”, stated Robinson Lopez, founder of AGROS from Peru.
“This has been invaluable – establishing linkages, supporting each other, positioning our companies and generating an impact in our countries and in the region”, remarked Danilo Miranda, CEO of BloomsPal Network from Colombia.
15 entrepreneurs from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru attended Digital Agriculture Week, along with IICA technical staff.
|About IICAIICA is the specialized agency for agriculture in the Inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34 Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.|
Institutional Communication Division.