Agricompas is building an entirely new information system to encourage better decision making in the food system for people and plants.
“We want to go to the moon, so we are building a rocket of information,” says Roelof Kramer.
“It’s complicated because we’re putting together an information system that doesn’t exist.”
This ‘information rocket’ is AgriCompas, which aims to create more sustainable and ethical food chains that create profits for farmers, improve biodiversity, and create better socio-economic outcomes.
To do this, the company is collecting and digitising information of entire value chains, linking up the economic, social and environmental impacts of decisions like never before.
The idea is that this will encourage companies, policy makers, civil society and others in the food chain such as processors, to improve social and environmental gains, rather than just profits.
Farmers will also receive information, helping them to improve productivity and profitability.
Roelof came to the idea after years spent working globally in agribusiness where he became increasingly concerned about the impact of the food system on people and planet.
“Pressured by an ever-growing world population, vested (mostly economic) interests prevail over environmental and social, causing large scale deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, reduced biodiversity and poor socio-economic conditions,” he says.
“We are proud we can feed billions of people, but at what cost?” Realising also that crop productivity improvements were lagging behind due a lack of joined up approach in technology and production data, Roelof had a brain wave.
“I had a kind of Matrix moment - of how we could see all the food production systems connected.”
Thousands of data sets are collected - this includes via farmers inputting crop data using apps, weather stations, satellites and NGOs inputting information on socio-economic conditions.
Data is uploaded to the AgriCompas platform, which transforms it into useful information.
Farmers receive information on optimal conditions for free, enabling better decision making.
For a fee, anonymous data is provided to external partners - the service industry, government agencies, NGOs, and those in food chains such as processors.
Roelof sees a range of outcomes from this, such as policies tackling gender inequality in production chains, through to insurance companies being able to offer affordable crop insurance.
AgriCompas is currently piloting the concept with 10 cacao and oil palm growers in Colombia, but is targeting 56,000 growers of rice, cacao, and palm across the country by working with farmer associations.
Useful information is being fed back to the farmers free of charge to improve their yields.
Data will also be sent to insurance companies in the hope that it could take the risk - and therefore expense - out of offering valuable insurance to those who grow some of the world’s most price volatile crops.
After proof of concept is finished, Roelof plans to roll AgriCompas out in the UK for sugar beet, potato, OSR, wheat and barley.
The company is working with the Universities of Reading and Lincoln, and British satellite company Pixalytics.
Finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at Farm491, Cirencester, on November 21, 2019.
For more information, visit AgInnovationDen.com