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  • Writer's pictureMagnus H. Mernild

'30 by 30' – it's a great time to be in AgriTech right now

The Green Lead recently had the pleasure of hosting Min Ai Kok, Programme Analyst at UNDP’s Global Centre for Technology, Innovations and Sustainable Development. Min Ai is managing UNDP’s flagship AgriTech initiative Cultiv@te out of Singapore.

Hosted by the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore, ‘The Green Lead’ is an ongoing series of flash-talks with regional thought leaders aimed at sharing experiences, best practices, and linking up partners to drive the green transition through accelerated regional collaboration opportunities. Main messages and key takeaways from each flash-talk will be summarised and shared via the Green Denmark in Southeast Asia community.

You may also watch the full interview here.

Q: What are the main challenges and opportunities for Singapore in reaching its ambitious ’30 by 30’ target?

Singapore lacks space and talents, but an ambitious national vision has brought food security and agricultural innovation to the table

Firstly, Singapore lacks space as a highly dense city. Currently, less than 1% of its land is used for agriculture. Secondly, there is a lack of agricultural knowledge and talents since the country moved away from farming in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Agriculture, being labour intensive, is also unattractive for young people to pursue as careers, hence, the challenge of attracting talents is not only Singapore's, but a global challenge.

Despite the challenges, there are ample opportunities – and the Government’s ’30 by 30’ vision announced in 2019 has really brought self-reliance and food security to the table. We are clearly seeing the effects in terms of a growing eco-system here.

Q: One of the key components in achieving the target is to engage innovators and start-ups in the growth stage. You are considered one of the leading green talents in Singapore, and you have been fighting to push the green agenda. What are the key takeaways and recommendations you would give to start-ups and young innovators sitting in Denmark looking towards Singapore?

Especially the sub-sectors like alternative proteins, indoor farming and robotic food delivery that reflects novel, cutting-edge technologies are seeing a huge surge in interest

Working with UNDP and interacting with the AgriTech ecosystem in Singapore, I can only say that it’s a great time to be in AgriTech right now. And by AgriTech we are talking about any kind of technology and innovation that can solve agriculture and good problems.

The AgriTech space has been gathering a lot of interest from investors, governments and different institutions in the recent years. The fact is that the challenges that the sector faces have been around for a long time. The agri-food sector is one that is significantly lacking behind in terms of digital transformation. There is a lot of opportunity to drive technology and innovation to address the challenges in this space.

An AgFunder report that AgriTech and FoodTech start-ups in 2019 raised USD 19.8 billion in venture funding while the industry has seen a 250% growth over the last five years. This is especially for sub-sectors like alternative proteins, indoor farming and robotic food delivery. It reflects the novel, cutting-edge technologies that are seeing a huge surge in interest.

Just by looking at the numbers alone and the growing opportunities, anyone interested in joining this space with supportive solutions for AgriTech will be supported by a conducive environment and a bustling innovation ecosystem.

Q: How can start-ups and innovators get in touch with UNDP and start collaborating with the eco-system in Singapore?

For new pilots across Asia, we are looking for companies and innovators within blockchain for food traceability and precision agriculture

Outside of the Cultiv@te programme, we have a line of initiatives where we are looking at other types of technology that can help to address the challenges in the food and agriculture system. For example, we are finalising a knowledge piece that will provide governments and policy makers with information on how blockchain works and how it can be applied for food traceability. We hope to use the case studies and best practices form this document to implement a few pilots across Asia and Africa. We are looking for partners, whether companies and or solutions providers, to work with us to implement these pilots.

Aside from that, we are looking to develop a similar project for precision agriculture technologies. This is an area with so much potential. Again, we are searching for partners who can provide technologies and solutions or any other support to implement these.

There are ample opportunities, and we are always open to engage with new partners who share these objectives.

What is UNDP’s Global Centre for Technology, Innovations and Sustainable Development?

The Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development is a joint initiative by the Government of Singapore and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which aims at identifying and co-creating technological solutions for sustainable development. The Centre curates partnerships, identifies solutions and connects partners and innovations with UNDP’s Global Policy Network and development partners.

For more information about the opportunities to team-up with UNDP’s Global Centre and the AgriTech eco-system in Singapore, please contact:

Min Ai Kok

Programme Analyst, UNDP Global Centre

Contact the host for more information about business opportunities and collaborations with the Green Denmark in Southeast Asia community in Singapore:

Magnus H. Mernild

Head of Communications & Public Diplomacy at the Royal Danish Embassy Singapore

Phone: +65 9636 3819



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