11/25/2021 at 2:39 PM CET
Lidia Alvarez Vellido
Spain is positioned in the third place worldwide in terms of number of startups belonging to the agrotech sector. With 750 companies of this type, we are a few steps away from reaching Israel with almost 800 and two places behind the United States, with 1,200 agrotechnology startups. “We have a lot of technological development, with 40 different verticals that can be applied to the Agriculture, Livestock and fishing; having this amount of supply there is no excuse for digitization & rdquor ;, assures Ivan Lütolf, president and founder of AgroTech Spain.
So what is wrong? In the expert’s opinion, in our country public money is dedicated to digitizing farmers and ranchers but there is no item dedicated to companies supplying these technologies. As an example, France is an example, where 250 startups in this sector have been identified and, according to Lütolf, just over two months ago the French Ministry of Agriculture announced a € 200 million item to invest in agrotech over the next five years. “Watching the stage, in a few years we are going to have a competitive disadvantage very big. To digitize the sector you have to have some suppliers and that is what these companies have & rdquor ;.
Agri-food is the present
In addition to this lack of support for agrotechnology companies, another problem that is contemplated in the sector is “the aging of the rural population and the lack of generational renewal Due to the lack of interest on the part of young people, it has been reducing the progress of the & rdquor; sector, explains Álvaro Fernández-Blanco Barreto, veterinarian and technical director of the Livestock Area of Substrate AI, one of the Spanish startups that are dedicated to bring Artificial Intelligence to take care of the animal and improve milk production on farms.
The president and founder of AgroTech Spain agrees on this and emphasizes making this group see that “agri-food is not the future, but the present. If we continue to say that it is the future, they will never worry about knowing the importance and benefits of digitization & rdquor ;, he explains, and this ignorance makes the investment in technology look like a waste of money, “people don’t spend money on something they don’t know So a tool that would speed up your work and that costs 3,000 euros is not seen as an investment. On the other hand, a tractor for 200,000 euros yes & rdquor ;, adds Lütolf.
But what problems could arise if this sector lags behind other countries? Lütolf gives another example: Holland or the Netherlands. Some regions that “not much bigger than Catalonia & rdquor; and a much more advantageous production than that of Spain.
Today everything is related to data. Consumers themselves want to know all the information about the products they consume and wholesale buyers will not invest in something that does not have a medium level digitization.
To achieve a real digitization in the sector, Barreto believes that “it is essential to bring it closer to people in their day to day through adaptive, simple and direct models, which avoid the costly interpretation of results & rdquor ;.
For his part, Lütolf assures that “if you are not going to digitize in 5 years, sell your farm today. If you are not going to bet on technology, your company will be worth much less. There is no plan B. In addition to the SDGs, regulations are beginning to force the notification of certain measures and controls and all of this is done through technology and data & rdquor ;.