Agritech in Israel
Our rapidly changing climate poses many threats, one of which is to the sustainability of agriculture. Whether we like to admit it or not, the harsh reality is that the effects of climate change get a little more real with every passing year. As the global population increases, food security is a critical concern.
Sustainable solutions for more efficient farming are becoming more and more essential, and due to this, agriculture is currently undergoing economic and technological changes worldwide. Climate change is becoming the catalyst for the growth of the agritech sector. In addition to climate change, the unavoidable competition for space and water between our crops and ourselves has become a driving force for innovation. Agritech is the sector that’s helping to shape the future of farming and agriculture as a whole.
What is Agritech?
Agritech is the use of technology and technological innovations to improve the efficiency of agricultural processes. It’s using technology to improve all aspects of the farming and growing of crops. Agritech helps to save significant time, money, and precious natural resources by automating tasks and increasing overall efficiency.
As concerns surrounding climate change increase and population growth continues unabated, so does the demand for these new technologies. Agritech is becoming one of the most important industries on earth.
No other country has contributed more breakthroughs to the agritech industry than Israel, and they continue to find more and more innovative solutions to strengthen food security for the future of humanity.
Israel is known as “The Startup Nation” for good reason. They produce more startups per capita than any other nation on earth, specifically tech startups.
Historically, Israel has invested heavily into a state-run agricultural research organization – VolcaniCenter. The VolcaniCenter’s goal is to develop cutting edge technologies to solve real-world problems. Their research and development initiatives have enabled Israelis to grow crops in the desert by turning once inhospitable, barren landscapes into abundant land for farming.
Israel is currently among the leading countries in agritech with 280 related companies and 200 exporters of agritech services and products. Over the past few years, about $90MM has been invested annually into research and development, making Israel a world leader in allocation of funds in the agritech sector.
Current agriculture in Israel is the result of a long, hard struggle against adverse land and climate conditions. Only 20 percent of Israel’s soil is arable, and their natural water supplies are below the UN’s definition of water poverty. Yet, Israel manages to produce 95 percent of its own food requirements.
Since Israel’s independence in 1948, the area of cultivated land has expanded from 408,000 acres to 1,070,000 acres, the number of agricultural communities grew from 400 to 725, and the total agricultural output grew by 16 times, three times the rate of population growth.
Israel’s Agritech Achievements
Some of Israel’s agritech achievements include computer controlled drip irrigation, computerized early-warning systems for leaks, thermal imaging for crop water stress detection, and biological pest control.
Water shortages have sparked many unique innovations in Israeli agriculture. An average of 70 percent of the world’s water goes toward irrigating crops, a big part of this due to using wasteful flood irrigation techniques. Netafim, an Israeli company, invented modern drip irrigation technology in the 1960s. This dramatically decreased the amount of water needed to grow crops.
At the end of the day, the aim of agritech companies is to grow more food in less space and with fewer inputs. With 201 Israeli startups in the agritech sector as of December 2021, Israel is at the forefront of this industry.
Varana Capital in Agritech
Varana Capital – a Denver based asset management platform highly involved in Israeli startups – realizes the impact and importance of the agritech industry, and has made investments accordingly. One portfolio company, Galileo Wheel, is reinventing the agricultural tire industry. Galileo has developed a new breed of tire that allows farming machinery to do more work with less energy and less downtime all while allowing operation in harsh conditions not before possible. In a country full of these harsh conditions, mostly covered by desert, lacking fresh water sources and not naturally conducive to agriculture, Israel has still managed to become a world-leading agritech hub and become a major exporter of fresh produce.
Galileo Wheel invented, patented and brought to market the CupWheel. The revolutionary technology and tire which is quickly becoming the new standard for efficient and sustainable off-road mobility.
Companies like Galileo Wheel will continue to advance the agritech sector and ultimately lead to a wide-spread implementation of sustainable agricultural practices.