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How AgriTech is key to reaching net zero food production:
Executive Summary

 

 
 
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Tackling climate change is a priority for global and UK agriculture

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a worldwide imperative, and while UK agriculture is at the leading edge of many sustainable practices, it has an important role to play in meeting net zero goals.

The National Farmers’ Union has set a target of reaching net zero for agriculture across England and Wales by 2040. Its three pillars to obtaining this goal are: boosting productivity and reducing emissions, farmland carbon storage, and the coupling of bioenergy to carbon capture utilisation and storage.

Some major UK supermarkets have committed to being carbon neutral from their own operations by 2035.

Changes to UK farming must be data driven and economically viable

It is important that agricultural businesses conduct a carbon audit to create a baseline from which they can develop sustainability strategies to demonstrate achievement. Some funding is available to support such audits.

Changes to UK Government payment schemes and subsidies will make sustainable practices increasingly important for farmers. Retailers and other business within the AgriFood supply chain are focusing on improved carbon metrics and will look to farmers to help deliver their net zero ambitions.

Sustainable farming practices also need to be economically viable to allow agricultural businesses to support themselves and allow the production of affordable food. The best approaches and technologies deliver efficiencies for farmers as well as reducing emissions and ensuring greater supply chain resilience.

Innovation is essential and will be most effective when enabled through collaboration

Incremental changes to agricultural processes and practices will not deliver the scale of impact needed to meet net zero goals. The development and use of innovative technology is vital to reaching these targets.

There is a thriving AgriTech ecosystem, supported by the UK Centres of Agricultural Innovation and other organisations such as Barclays Eagle Labs and the School of Sustainable Food and Farming. The involvement of farmers in AgriTech is essential – as innovators, developers and champions, and to ensure that new tech is both practical and commercially viable.

Success will not be possible without collaboration right across the industry. This will involve new ways of working, effective sharing of data and insights, and finding funding and business models that enable the rate and scale of change required.

Funding in AgriTech is increasing and investment criteria are changing

Global venture capital (VC) investment in AgriTech doubled from $2.5bn to $5bn between 2019 and 2020. The subsectors of indoor agriculture, crop protection and inputs management accounted for almost 50% of deals in 2020.

Specialist VC funds with a focus on climate change are looking for investments in AgriTechs that can have a meaningful impact. There is also increased interest from traditional VCs that were previously deterred by the longer timelines and larger deal values often involved in agricultural investments.

Having a foothold in non-domestic markets and demonstrating a route to accelerated growth can be key to securing funding, especially from overseas investors.

Source: Pitchbook/Finistere Ventures 2020

Farming and AgriTech: the challenges and opportunities of delivering net zero

 

The challenges posed by climate change are significant...

globe Barn

45%

reduction required in global CO2 emissions by 2030 from 2010 levels. Net zero by 2050. 1

10%

UK’s greenhouse gases generated by agriculture. 2

 

... leading investors to increasingly focus on AgriTech opportunities.

graph piggy bank

100%

increase in global VC investment in AgriTech 2019-2020. 5

$5Bn

Global VC investment in AgriTech in 2020. 5

 

Consumers are ready to make more sustainable choices...

farmer consumer

49%

UK consumers bought more seasonal products in 2021. 4

34%

UK consumers chose more sustainable brands in 2021. 4

 

... and UK agriculture is focused on meeting net zero. 3

target burger

2040

NFU target to reach net zero for agriculture across England & Wales. 3

50%

UK beef has half the carbon footprint of the global average. 2

 

The National Farmers Union has identified three pillars to reach net zero - AgriTech has an important role in all of them.

windfarms Cloud Bioenergy

1.

Boosting productivity and reducing emissions.

2.

Farmland carbon storage.

3.

Coupling bioenergy to carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

 

 

Investment growth across multiple markets and technologies

 

Global AgriTech VC deal activity by year 5

 

Graph
 
 

 

Global AgriTech VC deals - by subsector 5

piechart

 

How AgriTech is key to reaching net zero food production report
 

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