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Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

BASF launches Agrostart in Mexico and Central America, seeking to feed us sustainably in a scarcer future

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – BASF, an agrotech firm, seems to be following the standard growth formula for the region. The German chemicals company recently launched its US$4 million tech fund in Brazil. Now it has hemisphere skipped over to Mexico.

Related article: German chemical producer BASF injects US$4 million into Brazilian agrotech fund

The program is called AgroStart and it will accelerate and develop innovative agricultural projects in both Central America, as well as Mexico. It kicked off its recruitment phase back in November 2019. In it, 79 startups signed up, of which, 15 were selected as the grand winners.

The startups will now go on to the second phase of the three-stage implementation process. They have already gone through AgroStart’s first stage, including the launch and selection section. Now, they will get onto the subsequent acceleration phases; growth strategies and implementation. 

Innovation from root to STEM 

The idea behind AgroStart is to combine the entrepreneurial spirit of agriculture with technology in order to maximize sustainable and efficient farming. 

The chosen agricultural technology startups will be developing solutions in six key categories. These subdivisions will tackle problems pertaining to farm management, of course, but they will also explore a more diverse array of challenges tangential to agrotech.

These will include innovations in e-commerce, systems information, and robotics. The various new technological solutions and agricultural techniques will go on to combine with the realms of vertical and precision agriculture.

It’s a small world, after all

These high-tech buzzwords hide a worrisome truth. Fifty years after the start of the Green Revolution—the productive explosion in agricultural techniques in the last century—, the world is now in need of new solutions. 

The global population is set to hit 10 billion people by 2050. Yet, all things being the same, our current technologies could probably feed all those folks and more when the time comes.

The problem is, practically nothing will be the same. It will be worse. 

As this week’s fire-ravaged Australia can attest to, global climate change is putting an ever bigger strain on our world’s agricultural resources. Desertification, over-farming, and general ecosystem degradation will all lead to the mass shrinking of available arable land.

Therefore, the next Green Revolution will have to be able to do more with less. And that is where initiatives like AgroStart and the likes of Colombia’s Wuruwa—a farm-to-table distribution startup—come in.

Related article: Waruwa registers over 1,000 food providers in Colombia to transform supply chain

As Iván Rodríguez—BASF’s Digital Solutions Modeling Head in México, Central America, and the Caribbean—said in a recent release, “the spirit of AgroStart lies in looking to make innovations reach the thousands of Mexican farmers that, through digital tools, will be able to produce higher yields from their existing parcels.”

The question is: will the agricultural solutions that the AgroStart program looks to create keep up with the rate at which we are eating up our planet?

-AG

Alejandro González Ormerod
Historian, writer, and editor from Mexico City. He was a book publisher, academic, and cheesemonger before joining Contxto. Still deciding on which Latin American country to visit next; food and fun are the main criteria.

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