The Motley Fool, a popular website for investment advice, has caught on to the rising ag-tech and urban farming industries and has marked investments in technologies and companies that are looking to solve Food Security issues as one of the best investments one could make in the 21st century.
It’s quite simple and it’s based on facts most of us are well aware of now. By 2050, we will have an estimated 9.6 billion people according to the U.N. We also anticipate that about 70% of those people will be living in cities. You take this and factor in aging farmers, shrinking farmland, changing climates, diminishing natural resources, soil degradation and rising consumer demand for local produce and you are left with a somewhat bleak picture. You have a lot of people to feed who want their food produced locally, but you have a lot of factors that lead up to less production. Your traditional farmers are retiring without people to take up their pitchforks, and the farms they are farming are being lost to urban sprawl. That’s fewer people growing food on less land. The people that are left farming have to deal with climate change which is causing droughts around the world, soil degradation from using commercialized fertilizers, and the resources that go into growing food like water and fertilizer are drying up.
That’s an immense challenge that we have to overcome, but with big obstacles comes big opportunity. The opportunity lies in the companies and technologies that take advantage of these trends. New farming methods like hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics are allowing us to exponentially increase the amount of food we grow in a given space while using exponentially less water and other resources to grow that food. Vertical farming is allowing farmers to exponentially increase the production of those farming techniques. Sensors, platforms, and robots are exponentially reducing the labor of the farmer and improve their yields year after year.
The macro picture is this, demand for high-quality local food is only going to increase for decades. The need to be able to produce food using fewer resources is only going to increase for decades. So investors looking to take advantage should be looking for companies that are focused on providing technology solutions that allow producers to boost output while reducing inputs. The recent Plenty investment showcases what type of companies are good investments. They have the industry leading vertical farming technology and are focused on using data analytics to reduce inputs and increase efficiencies. They are targeting cities for their farms and are very much aware and focused on addressing on surging urban populations.
While Food-Security poses a great opportunity, not all investments are created equal. Next week we will begin a new thought leadership series on what qualities make a company or a technology a good investment in this space. We’re at the precipice of a surging industry and there will be plenty of opportunities to take advantage. In the meantime, check out the original Motley Fool article.