For the second year in a row, within the Agrytech program, Berytech has partnered with Future Agro Challenge (FAC), the global competition targeting food and agribusiness startups from various corners of the globe addressing national, regional and global challenges, to catalyze innovation in the agri-food industry.
The challenges facing our food system
Carla Tanas, guest speaker at the Lebanon Agri-Food Innovation Day 2019 (AFID) and founder of the Future Agro Challenge joined the Agrytech Team and competition jury to announce the two winners of this year’s local edition: Compost Baladi – Lebanon Agripreneur of the Year 2019, and Clean2O, first runner up.
In her talk during AFID, Tanas explained the scope of the challenges of feeding an ever-growing population with ever-dwindling resources, the reason leading to her founding Future Agro Challenge: “We are aware of 12,000 edible species, yet 95% of the food we are eating in today’s food menu is made up of 30 edible plant species. There are 7.5 billion people in this world, with 3 billion in the workforce and 1.2 billion are in the agricultural workforce. Which means 570 million farming families are producing more than 80% of the world’s food. With less than 1% of the world’s menu, imagine the number of taste palates that have gone missing, imagine the number of value chains that have gone missing, defining local cultures that have gone missing, and we continue to aim to produce more of what we are currently doing.
We are looking at a challenge where, in 2050, we have to produce 70% more. We have 40% of the people in the global workforce working in agriculture, but only 4% of the global GDP is coming from agriculture. We’re going in the opposite direction of SDG #2. There are 38M more people who have gone hungry because of conflict and immigration and if we don’t do anything about our rural areas, more people from these areas are going to join terrorist organizations, and more people will immigrate. But then one-third of the food that humans produce is wasted. The numbers don’t really add up. We know that the current world menu goes hand-in-hand with climate change. Agriculture is the third industry that is causing climate change, mostly from rice production and livestock.
More importantly, farmers are going into retirement age with not enough income to make their children want to continue to do the jobs they are doing. We might be losing instinctual knowledge from farmer to farmer. This is not something that computers or technology can take over. A farmer’s instinctual knowledge is something a knowledge economy can go extinct if we don’t take care of. The only way to solve that is to create farmer incomes, to be able to generate their own income so that the young see agriculture as a fruit basket opportunity.”
Solving future challenges today
“Today we are more connected and we have the ability to increase information dissemination. Now is the time to put family farms back into the center of the food value chain. Farmers will start to use less to produce more, and in turn, with new technologies, we are going to be able to create more profitable, efficient, safe, and enviroment friendly farms but one problem still remains. How can you create the skilled labor we need?
Our solution is Future Agro Challenge, a global network that seeks forward-thinking farmers and agro-innovators from around the world creating glocal solutions. Glocal as in local solutions with global opportunities. We need to bring our farmers closer to the innovation ecosystem we need to do this through a multi-stakeholder approach, and this is why a global network is very important. We bring in education, funding, access to market partnerships and new customers.”
Lebanese Agripreneur of the Year
Eight Lebanese agri-food startups competed in this year’s local Future Agro Challenge competition to win the title of “Lebanese Agripreneur of The Year” along with other valuable cash and business support prizes, to a jury composed of Ramy Boujawdeh – Berytech Deputy GM, Nadine Khoury – Robinson Agro COO, Alexandre Hawath – IM Capital Investment Officer, and Maya Margie – Head of Marketing Group at BLC Bank. Startups included:
- Quadra: an affordable optical fruit sorting machine catered for fruit sorting houses in the MENA region.
- Tree-D: a service company which solves Economic, Health, and Social issues faced in Agriculture because of Parasites.
- Compost Baladi: a pioneering Lebanese company in the production of home-scale biowaste recycling devices.
- Mushtic: a Bio-based material made from mushroom and agricultural waste, aiming to replace Styrofoam and other plastic
- Clean 2O: a portable device that can kill bacteria removes dirt and chemical toxins in an easy way making it affordable.
- VIEgans: provides you with fresh, healthy, affordable dairy-free cheese based on nuts.
- Agronline: E-commerce platform directly linking restaurants to farmers & streamlining the entire sourcing process of fresh produce.
- IoTree: a smart device that early detect harmful pests, reduce the % of crop losses and improve the harvest quality.
Compost Baladi will make it to the international finals to represent Lebanon at the Global Agripreneurs Summit in September in Greece and compete with the most promising agri-food startups from across the world for the title of “Agripreneur of the Year.”