Where will Artificial Intelligence in the food and agriculture value chain take us?
As important as food is in life, few people are involved in the mass production of food in the world and this is becoming problematic. Half a dozen corporations produce the inputs for crops like machines, chemicals and seed. This consolidated handful of stakeholders can strangle innovation analogous to the giant internet organizations that control advertising on the internet and thereby are beginning to limit the internet itself.
A recent oddity in American agriculture has been the emergence of the venture capitalist community seeing an opportunity believing it could modernize the agriculture industry with innovation. Unfortunately it met with little success. It jumped on a two decade old technology, precision agriculture – PA, with intentions of making billions of dollars. The results have been minimal from the hundreds of VC startups. Less than half a dozen of these startups have succeeded in standing on their own legs or being acquired. The remaining balance of startups struggle or no longer exist.
Natural language processing coupled with deep learning can bump ag decision making up a notch, but it takes a lot of horsepower and resources; and university R & D funded from grants will disincentive the private sector. Another strange phenomenon of capitalism because this system competes with small and disadvantaged slowing innovation.
As drivers of change we seek to do something about the status quo in the value chain in food and agriculture.
There are a couple hundred thousand farms that produce most of the crops and livestock new USA. It’s a much different paradigm in other parts of the world where subsistence farming is prevalent. The worst paradox of it all is that those who have no money cannot buy ANY food. In the Western World, there is this global machine that can produce massive quantities of food, yet a billion humans starve because they have no money for food.
The Food and Agriculture Institute’s mission is researching and deploying tools to enable those who can use them.