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15 November 2018

India’s Ecozen Solutions has won the inaugural Rabobank Food Loss Challenge Asia, launched to highlight agri-tech solutions to the growing global problem of food loss and wastage from farm to market.

Ecozen Solutions, which is enabling the farm-to-fork movement of perishables by providing solar based cold rooms at the farm level, was chosen from five finalists at the event Finale held today in Singapore. Ecozen won both the Jury’s Prize of USD15,000 and the Audience’s Prize of USD5,000. The event Finale was held at Rabobank Asia’s Food & Agriculture Advisory Board meeting, the bank’s premier event bringing together C-Suite level decision makers of leading food & agriculture companies.

 
 (From left) Mark van Binsbergen of Rabobank, Amit Khirbat of Olam, Sid Jain of ADM Asia Pacific, Albert Boogaard of Rabobank Foundation, Prateek Singhal, Co-founder and COO of Ecozen Solutions, Sagar Kaushik of UPL Ltd, Anuj Maheshwari of Temasek and Diane Boogaard of Rabobank. Missing from the photo : Prasit Chalongchaichan of CP Group.

(From left) Mark van Binsbergen of Rabobank, Amit Khirbat of Olam, Sid Jain of ADM Asia Pacific, Albert Boogaard of Rabobank Foundation, Prateek Singhal, Co-founder and COO of Ecozen Solutions, Sagar Kaushik of UPL Ltd, Anuj Maheshwari of Temasek and Diane Boogaard of Rabobank. Missing from the photo : Prasit Chalongchaichan of CP Group.

 

Prateek Singhal, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Ecozen, said: “A win at the Food Loss Challenge Asia is a validation of our efforts and product offering. Food Loss is a key issue in all developing countries and we at Ecozen are striving to build solutions to prevent this. This Challenge will help us to reach out and collaborate with like-minded businesses and organizations working towards tackling food loss. Further, it can also provide access to capital which would fast track our product development and business expansion plans.”

“Rabobank has been very supportive in preparing for this challenge, mentoring and guiding at every stage. Our business model of leasing of cold rooms to farmers and connecting them via platform to organised buyers who are looking to source perishables from them was well appreciated by Rabobank and the audience. We are looking forward to collaborate with them in future to scale this model.” 

Ecozen has implemented its solutions in ASEAN region including Indonesia and Vietnam with the help of Covestro and is looking to expand further into other developing countries including African and Southeast Asian markets.

Read the full press release here.


30 October 2018

Last Friday (26 Oct) at the Food Loss Challenge Asia: Pitch Day, 20 startups had the challenging task of leaving their best impression with the judging panel, with 5 min to pitch the best parts of their startups and 5 min to answer questions from the panel.

On the day itself that the judging panel made their verdict on the Top 5 that will be proceeding to Rabobank Asia’s Food and Agri Advisory Board Meeting, a premier event bringing Chairmen and CEOs of leading Food & Agribusiness companies and commodity traders from Asia together and continue to be in the running for the Jury’s Prize and Audience Favourite.

The Top 5 startups in alphabetical order are as follows:

CropIn Technology Solutions (Precision Farming) (www.cropin.com) - An intuitive, intelligent, self-evolving system that delivers future-ready farming solutions to the entire agricultural sector. With capabilities of live reporting, analysis, interpretation and insight that span across geographies, their solution digitizes every farm, while data-managing the entire ecosystem.

Eachmile Technologies (Farmer Services- Fish) (www.eachmile.co) - Uses mobile technology to provide fishers and farmers the data they need to improve their livelihoods, and connect each link of otherwise fragmented supply chains.

Ecozen Solutions Pvt. Ltd.(Solar) (www.ecozensolutions.com) - Provides renewable energy-based products that can store and transport perishables along the value chain.

Elixia Tech Solutions Ltd. (Supply Chain) (www.elixiatech.com) - Provides comprehensive and customised solutions for transportation, logistics and supply chain management across industries by converting accurate and real-time data actionable business intelligence.

Pula Advisors (Farmer Services) (www.pula-advisors.com) - Develops and distributes bundles of financial and agronomic services for smallholder farmers. The bundle includes agricultural inputs, insurance and precision agronomic advisory.

You may also watch the highlight reel of the Pitch Day below!

 
 

28 September 2018

After an intensive shortlisting process, Rabobank and our partners have shortlisted the following Top 20 companies, out of 127 submissions, to proceed into the next round of the Food Loss Challenge Asia - Pitch Day!

Congratulations to all finalists and we look forward to seeing you at Pitch Day on 26 October 2018 in Singapore!

(In alphabetical order)

AgUnity Pty Ltd

A simple distributed cryptoledger mobile app in the hands of every small farmer, streamlining farmer co-operative operations.

AptaCam

Molecular diagnostics using biosensing and proprietary diagnostic reagents and portable devices.

BharatRohan Airborne Innovations Private Limited

UAV-based hyperspectral imaging to improve data collection from farms, which is then converted into actionable information and reports to enable industrial producers to reduce crop losses, optimize agri-inputs and maximise yield and profit.

CropIn Technology Solutions

An intuitive, intelligent, self-evolving system that delivers live reporting, analysis, interpretation and insight that span across the entire agriculture ecosystem.

Distinct Horizon

An applicator for a fertiliser application method called Urea / Fertilizer Deep Placement (UDP/FDP) for rice farming.

Eachmile Technologies

Mobile technology to provide fisheries and farmers the data they need to improve their livelihoods, and connect each link of otherwise fragmented supply chains.

Ecozen Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Proprietary renewable energy-based products that can store and transport perishables along the value chain.

Elixia Tech Solutions Ltd.

Accurate and real-time data for transportation, logistics and supply chain management, converted into actionable business intelligence.

Ergos

A grid of rural medium and micro warehouses at farm-gate, as well as provision of credit access and forward linkages.

Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd.

A proprietary soil evaluation solution, using a combination of sensors and colorimetry to evaluate the level of pH and certain nutrients in the soil in an extremely short time with high accuracy.

HARA

A global and open blockchain-based data exchange for the food sector that incentivises and enables everyone from farmers to manufacturers to retailers to make better data-driven decisions.

Impact Terra

Develops, implements, and teaches mobile-based solutions for farmers, agribusinesses and other agricultural stakeholders to improve food security and the livelihoods of rural populations.

Intello Labs Pvt. Ltd.

Advanced image analytics tools and techniques using deep learning and artificial intelligence, to help farmers grade their produce and empower them to demand a fair price.

Jayalaxmi Agrotech Pvt Ltd

A unique combination of hardware, software and data solutions that reduces the information gap in agriculture by communicating with farmers in their regional languages.

KrishiHub

An AI-powered mobile app which helps farmers explore crop prices and weather forecasts, create and monitor their farms on app, and get tips for growing crops.

MyCrop Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

A strongly interlinked top-down interface where the activities and output at the individual grassroots level can be monitored and analysed to achieve optimum results.

Promethean Power Systems

Manufactures and supplies cold storage and milk chilling equipment for dairy industry, using patented Promethean thermal storage system technology that uses thermal batteries and solar power solutions.

Pula Advisors

Develops and distributes bundles of financial and agronomic services for smallholder farmers. The bundle includes agricultural inputs, insurance and precision agronomic advisory.

Solentum B.V.

Creates science-based tools and services to improve quality controls and process efficiencies for players in the potato-growing value chain.

Tun Yat

An online platform which connects farmers who want to rent agricultural machines and machine suppliers (either big suppliers or individual suppliers).

 


ADM.PNG

19 September 2018

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is always on the lookout for next innovative solutions to tackle food loss, with a venture capital of their own. Sid Jain, Director, Business Development for the Asia Pacific region at ADM shares about their initiatives and how you might align with them.

Q: Why are you joining this Food Loss Challenge?

Sid: Nearly a billion people worldwide lack sufficient food. Millions of tons of wheat, maize, oilseeds and rice—enough to meet the dietary needs of hundreds of millions of people—are lost each year to pests, disease, mishandling and other factors. The FAO estimates that that about 1/3 of all food ends up spoiled, thrown out or wasted, at a cost of over $1 trillion. ADM, as one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, has taken a lead in preventing food loss.

Q: How does your organisation try to reduce Food Loss?

Sid: ADM has been actively working on food loss initiatives for many years. 

  1. In January 2011, ADM provided a $10M gift to the University of Illinois to establish the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss.   The institute is an international information and technology hub for evaluating, creating and disseminating economically viable technologies, practices, and systems that reduce postharvest losses of commodity products include rice, wheat, maize, and oilseeds.

  2. Today, ADM has active strategic partnerships and food loss prevention projects in India, Bangladesh, Brazil and Africa.

  3. The company actively supports efforts to improve transportation infrastructure, which is critical to moving food efficiently from areas of supply to areas of demand.

  4. ADM also invests in technologies to help farmers be more productive.

  5. ADM uses 99% of each kernel of corn or soybean processed, thereby providing valued added products to the food and animal feed industries. The remaining 1 percent can be used as a fertilizer by farmers supporting the growth of new crops. 

Q: Where do you think the biggest opportunity in terms of Food Loss reduction lies?

Sid: Creating awareness is an important step for making this a top of mind issue for everyone. Initiatives like this Rabobank Food Loss Challenge are a terrific step for not just awareness but also for taking action.

Q: Where do you think the main obstacle lies?

Sid: Aside from creating awareness about the issue, finding solutions for addressing the issue is critical; we need to look for solutions all along the food supply chain. ADM’s corporate Venture Fund, “ADM Ventures”, helps find the right partnerships and investment opportunities in food technology areas including food loss and sustainability. ADM Ventures is playing an active role in Asia-Pacific, scouting for investment opportunities with Asian food tech start-ups and research institutes.

Q: What would you like to tell our startups?

Sid: ADM is interested in identifying the right partners for strategic relationships or investment opportunities in technology based food loss solutions. Food loss prevention requires behavioural changes to have material impact on this problem.  How easy is your solution for people to understand and therefore change current practices?


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13 September 2018

Having worked with an extensive network of smallholder farmers through their various programmes, Olam knows what it is looking for in the startups at Food Loss Challenge Asia. Singapore-based Amit Khirbat, President and Global Head of Cashews, shares about the importance of measurement and more.

Q: Why are you joining this Food Loss Challenge?

Amit: The often quoted figure of a 1/3 of food raised or prepared not making it from farm to the dinner table is truly shocking. As a leading global agribusiness Olam is aware that this problem also has significant negative implications on farmer livelihoods especially smallholders, gives rise to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, increases demand for agricultural land and increased consumption of scarce water resources. Certainly with another 2 billion people by 2050 we cannot carry on the way we are.

While many companies like Olam have sustainability frameworks in place, we know we must go beyond what is currently being achieved today and achieve far greater impact at far greater scale. As such at Olam we are challenging ourselves to Re-Imagine Global Agriculture. We see the Food Loss Challenge as a fascinating collaborative opportunity to re-imagine solutions that deliver greater scale at speed.

We will aim to contribute practical and business insights from our world of agriculture, where we are connected both directly and through intermediaries to around 4.7 million smallholder farmers, to support the development of innovative ideas into practical business solutions to avoid and reduce food loss, in turn adding further resilience and business value for farmers, suppliers and customers.

Q: How does your organisation try to reduce Food Loss?

Amit: At Olam, we have put sustainability firmly at the heart of our business. Our Corporate Responsibly & Sustainability (CR&S) framework was refreshed during 2017 adding the subject of pre-consumption Food Loss and is aligned to our new Core Purpose also launched in 2017: Re-imagining Global Agriculture: Growing Responsibly. Sunny Verghese, Olam’s CEO and Co-Founder is personally committed to the subject as one of the ‘Champions’ leading the ‘Champions 12.3’ coalition.

We know that to manage a subject we must first measure it, and Food Loss is no different. That is why with the support of the World Resources Institute (WRI) we have begun to implement the WRI Food Loss and Waste Protocol. As a first step we have completed two case studies; one for our oil palm farming and processing operations in Gabon and the other for our global rice ocean logistics operations. The two case studies show the two business operations already have a fairly strong focus on loss (loss from both operations was <1%)

With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Olam has partnered with the Sustainable Food Lab, Wageningen University and the Cool Farm Alliance to design and run food loss and waste (FLW) measurement pilots in Olam’s Nigerian smallholder rice programme. The pilot is intended to help the partners understand the business case for measuring and investing in FLW reduction in a company’s smallholder agricultural value chain.

We will use the case studies to introduce a consistent approach to measuring food loss, identifying areas requiring improvement and to demonstrate the value across all areas of Olam’s business.

We anticipate the majority of Food Loss will occur within the smallholder value chains. As such we are also looking to better incorporate the subject of food loss into how we work within our smallholder farmer programmes. One way we do this is by applying the ‘whole farm’ concept whereby we support the farmer to improve practices not just on the crop of interest to Olam but also on food crops the farmer may grow for local market or their own consumption.

In addition to the work within Olam we also act as a Food Loss subject lead in collaborative action within the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Global Agribusiness Alliance (GAA) where we hope to encourage change at a sector level.

Our objective for the Food Loss subject in the remainder of 2018 is to finalise our future strategy, which we hope will include some of the outcomes of the Food Loss Challenge.

Q: Where do you think the biggest opportunity in terms of Food Loss reduction lies?

Amit: When looking at the broad range of food crops the biggest immediate opportunities are likely to be for perishable crops e.g. fruit and vegetables. Opportunities around storage and logistics in emerging economies will likely be high on the agenda.

The experience we have from working directly in programmes with over 360,000 smallholder and from our wider smallholder supplier networks clearly points to poor on-farm, harvesting and post-harvesting practices and techniques (including storage and primary transport) as areas offering the greatest opportunities for Olam and companies like ourselves.

These opportunities could include ways to improve smallholder farmers’ capability and capacity to harvest or store their products. For example, in India it is estimated that about 10% of the crop is lost to pests or rots in inadequate warehouses.

There are also technological and data innovations which could provide benefits at scale such as improved crop forecasting (i.e. how much planned production) or weather data (i.e. when to harvest and harvest labour planning) or ways to improve access to finance for smallholders which can be used to invest in solutions to tackle food loss.

Q: Where do you think the main obstacle lies?

Amit: We believe the initial problem will be the lack of accurate smallholder farmer data and information on practices and techniques; but this is where a company such as Olam can provide a positive contribution through the use of farmgate level data from its Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS).

The next obstacle will be about how to disseminate data and information to smallholders; again the use of farmer information systems like OFIS could provide a solution to the challenge.

In all cases there will be a need to ensure a robust business case can be made. A broader challenge moving into larger aggregators and food companies could be something like insurance affecting the threshold for action on food loss by a company.

Q: What would you like to tell our startups?

Amit: Successfully tackling Food Loss will deliver positive contributions to a range of other challenges such as climate change (#3 ranked climate change solution by the Drawdown project1) and farmer livelihoods and it is arguably one of the most important foundations stones for delivering a sustainable food system for the future.

Olam is a young company, we’re a bit older than Apple and a bit younger than Google. We have been challenged by our CEO to be insurgent in our thoughts and actions. As such we have an open mind-set to ideas and an open attitude to experimentation to help us Re-Imagine Global Agriculture. Our values include ‘Entrepreneurship’ which means we dare to dream and we look forward to hearing your dreams and hopefully working with you to turn them into a reality.


Temasek.jpeg

7 September 2018

An investor with an eye firmly on the future beyond the present generation, Temasek is a partner that feels strongly about addressing the food loss that we face today because of the ramifications it could lead to in future. Anuj Maheshwari, Managing Director of Investment at Temasek International, tells us more and gives us great advice for startups looking to participate in the Challenge.

Q: Why are you joining Food Loss Challenge Asia?

Anuj: This initiative by Rabobank fits well with Temasek’s forward-looking investment stance of shaping a sustainable world for the future generations through innovative solutions and sustainable systems, science and technologies.

Under the Temasek Charter, which defines the DNA of the institution, we are an active investor and shareholder in order to deliver sustainable value over the long term,  a forward-looking institution that acts with integrity and is committed to pursuit of excellence and a trusted steward that strives for advancement of our communities across generations.

We are also an advocate of an ABC World of Active economies, Beautiful societies, and a Clean Earth, which is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that Singapore and 192 other members of the United Nations have committed to deliver by 2030.

Food loss is a major problem amid the increasing global food supply constraints and Temasek would like to play a bigger role in a promoting food loss reduction as part of our focus on sustainability and contributing to an ABC World.

Q: How does Temasek try to reduce Food Loss?

Anuj: As an institution, Temasek seeks out investment opportunities that foster innovation in different sectors, including agribusiness. We believe that in a world that is facing increasing food supply constraints to feed a growing global population, technological innovation along the food supply chain is imperative. Therefore, we actively seek to invest in innovative companies provide solutions for increasing food productivity as well as reducing food loss and wastage.

Calysta is one investment example, which converts methane gas into edible, natural proteins as a sustainable food source for fish, livestock and pets. Another example is our investment in the TPG Rise Fund for impact investing. 

Q: Where do you think the biggest opportunity in terms of Food Loss reduction lies?  

Anuj: Opportunities in terms of food loss reduction exist along the entire value chain. Typically, the majority of the food loss in the developing nations is at the handling, processing and storage stages. Technological gap and poor infrastructure in these stages of the value chain would present the biggest investment opportunities.

Q: Where do you think the main obstacle lies?

Anuj: The fact that food loss is a key problem in developing countries while a lesser issue in developed nations, where food wastage is a large problem, implies that economical, technological and infrastructure are the key obstacles in preventing food loss.

Q: What would you like to tell our startups?

Anuj: There are so many things to consider when running a startup! For those participating in the Challenge, I have these on the top of my head:

1) Understand that there a multiple constituents in the Food and Agri value chain (producer, aggregator, processor, distributor, retailer, consumer). Where are the pain points or friction across these channels? How will your product/service impact these different constituents?  How will you provide/capture value to/from these different groups? How will you coordinate your activities across these groups?

2) Companies repurposing a waste stream often don’t provide enough thought into how they will secure a stable consistent supply of this waste stream. Similarly, they oftentimes don’t envision scenarios in which their arbitrage opportunity no longer exists because they have shown the waste stream to be valuable.

3) Convey your view of the best way for your product/service to be distributed.

4) Do you view your company as having a social mission? If so, how do balance this mission with seeking profitability? Does this impact how you focus the development of your product service?


7 September 2018

Sagar Kaushik, Chief Operating Office of UPL Ltd, shares with us why it is important to fight food loss in Asia, and explains why the potential solution to food loss could lie in developing infrastructure and new agriculture business models involving smallholder farmers.


CPF2.png

5 September 2018

We had a chance to catch up with Khun Nattawat, who is the Executive Vice President, Corporate Business Planning, of Charoen Pokphand Foods PCL, one of our partners for Food Loss Challenge Asia. Learn more about their take on why battling Food Loss now is of paramount importance.

Q: Why have you decided to join us as a partner of Food Loss Challenge Asia?
Khun Nattawat: Food loss and waste is one of the key challenges to the world in terms of food security and sustainability. While globally we produce enough food for feeding people, up to one-third of all food is lost or wasted, leading to less food available for all and leaving nearly a billion people in hunger. This challenge will be of paramount importance with the anticipated increase in the global population to 9 billion in 2050. CPF, as one of the global leading agro-industrial and food businesses, aims to provide a quality food product to the consumers around the world. We believe that the efficient Food Loss Management would strongly support our mission. The quality of food is definitely not only limited to good taste, good packaging, good quality control, but also includes the good management on the food loss along the supply chain. Joining this Food Loss Challenge is a way to assure our consumers of our unwavering vision to become "a Sustainable Kitchen of the World". 

Q: How does CPF try to reduce Food Loss? 
Khun Nattawat: Food is lost in the entire supply chain- from production, packing, storage, transportation until reaching markets at the retail stage. As CPF has a fully integrated agro-industrial and food business model, from animal feed, farms, processing to foods and distribution, we have driven for better efficiency and quality control including food loss throughout our entire value chain. 

Q: Where do you think the biggest opportunity in terms of Food Loss reduction lies? 
Khun Nattawat: Food loss and waste is attracting more global interest and action. Bringing the stakeholders on food loss and waste together will contribute different ideas and solutions to the problem. This problem is not only an economic challenge, but also a food security and sustainability issue. 

Q: Where do you think the main obstacle lies? 
Khun Nattawat: To make meaningful change and impact, we should embed any solution in normal day-to-day operations of all stakeholders. Such a solution should be justifiable from an economic, social and environmental aspect. It may comprise the elements of technology, process and management, starting from planning to execution stages throughout the supply chain. 

Q: What would you like to tell the startups thinking of joining Food Loss Challenge Asia? 
Khun Nattawat: It is your great opportunity to bring solutions to one of the world's most complex and severe challenges impacting billions of people.


3 September 2018

Mark van Binsbergen, CEO of Rabobank and Innovation Lead for Asia, talks about what Food Loss Challenge Asia is about, why food security is an important issue, and how Rabobank is supportive of innovation and startups in this space.


3 September 2018

Albert Boogaard, Head of Innovation at Rabobank Foundation, shares with us what he will be looking for when he looks through the startup applications coming in for Food Loss Challenge Asia.

Be sure to apply for the Challenge by 19 September 2018!


21 August 2018

The inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia is now open for submissions! 

Have a tech-based solution that addresses food loss from farm to market in Asia? Stand a chance to win up to US$15,000 and new business opportunities and networks from Rabobank and our partners. Click here to apply now! 

Submissions close on 19 September 2018.