What is the Future of Agriculture?

**F&A Next connects food and agriculture start-ups to investors, serving as a springboard to greater innovation and a better deal for all**

Global agriculture has hit a wall. Changing consumer demand and the necessity to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint requires a disruption in the evolution of agriculture. Technology and ‘social innovation’ enable us to drive this disruptive change.

Consumer food demand has never before been so diverse and will continue to fragment further following the trend of ‘personalized diets’. The demand of affluent consumers for more natural products and  sustainable farming practices requires ‘extensification’ of agriculture. The demand of the >800 million people who are still deficient in nutrition requires further ‘intensification’ of agriculture. Will agriculture as a result become a battlefield between the growing group of affluent consumers and the undernourished?

The focus on climate change and both the role of agriculture in changing our planet’s climate and the consequences of climate change for agriculture requires a change in agricultural practices. Do agricultural practices need to ‘extensify’ to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint? And as such, will the environment battling on the side of the affluent consumers? Is the Malthusian catastrophe doomed to finally fall upon us?

As so far has always been the case, technology and innovation can provide us the means to prevent global agriculture becoming a battlefield between the affluent consumers and the environment on the one hand and the undernourished on the other. Adopting the novelties that research in ICT, robotics, and biology provide and making these novelties available to farmers worldwide through simple and beneficial applications allows us to cater for both the affluent consumers as well as for the undernourished. Without putting further strain on the environments natural resources. Rabobank analysis for example shows that adopting technology in both corn farming and livestock farming can substantially reduce the hectares needed to supply a growing global animal protein industry with sufficient corn. The ‘saved’ hectares can then be allocated to less intensive forms of farming practices (eg. organic, non-GMO, animal welfare) or even outright be given back to nature.

But, the agtech revolution – necessary to disrupt agriculture to enable it to meet the changing demands and requirement – will have difficulties to gain momentum. Farmers around the globe generally receive a relatively small share of the value created in the supply- and value chains they participate in. At the same time they have to absorb a relative large share of the risk. This makes it difficult for them to invest in changing farming practices that only provide a return in the long term or have a marginal value proposition within the current paradigm of risk and reward distribution in supply- and value chains. The ‘race-to-the-bottom’ in which farmers in mature agricultural markets are forced to adopt new yield-improving technologies fast in return for a small margin relative to the farmers who don’t/can’t adopt these technologies only works for a limited number of farmers who have the scale and as such the means to invest and take on some risk. The majority of our global farmers though can’t make the necessary investments and as such must be embedded in novel supply- and value chains in ways that allow them to earn a margin and shed some risk. Without this ‘social innovation’ the agtech revolution will have far less impact than required.

So, fragmentation of consumer food demand, as well as agriculture’s necessity to manage climate change, will substantially alter farming practices and supply- and value chain governance. Next to a continued focus on productivity, flexibility and resilience are required in global farming. Flexibility to meet fast-changing consumer demand and resilience to battle climate change. Supply- and value chain governance will shift further downstream, with the new digital consumer interaction platforms worrying how to organize their food supply chains in order to meet the further diversification and fragmentation of consumers’ food preferences.

What is the solution? Discover, debate and inspire at F&A Next next month: May 15-16 at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.


F&A Next is an initiative by Rabobank, Wageningen University & Research, Anterra Capital and StartLife, collectively believing that innovation will be key to sustainably feed future generations. Disruptive innovation in itself is not enough; it also needs to be implemented and transformed into tangible applications. Entrepreneurs are needed for their drive, investors for their belief and corporates for their mass impact. To stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship we launched F&A Next in 2016.

This conference is about thought leadership and connecting promising start-ups/ scale-ups, to dedicated food & agtech investors and innovative corporates. It includes one and a half day of networking, pitching and debating the dynamics in food and agriculture. If you are wholeheartedly committed to the ambitions of F&A Next than join us for the fourth edition which will take place at the Campus of Wageningen University and Research on 15 – 16 May. This edition will address, amongst others, the real issues and drivers for innovation in crop and livestock farming, the impact of legislation on the license to operate for farmers in Europe, incumbent corporates embracing innovation and the latest update on investments in food & agriculture by prominent VCs. Of course we’ll be showcasing the best early-stage businesses along the food & ag value chain. A more detailed program will be available soon.




F&A Next is about sharing insights on innovation and investing in early stage businesses in Food & Agriculture and connecting promising start-ups/scale-ups, to dedicated food & agtech investors and innovative corporates.


The most promising Food & Ag start-ups/scale-ups will present their propositions on stage.


F&A Next is one and a half day of networking, pitching and debating the dynamics in food and agriculture. You can expect an international audience including start-ups/scale-ups, investors and innovative corporates.

Find out more and purchase your ticket here.

**F&A Next is an AgFunder Network Partner. Find out more here.**

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