Agriculture in Malaysia provides many opportunities for innovation seeing as Malaysia ranked number 40th in food security according to the Global Food Index 2018 report.
To help spur innovation in this area, a bootcamp, Demo Bay, was held recenty.
The event saw 13 start-ups from the programme pitched their ideas to a panel of judges from the industry. The aim was to tackle problems in the agritech and food tech space in Malaysia.
The bootcamp organised its demo day during the Global AgriTech Summit 2019 held in Bank Rakyat Convention Centre. The demo day marked the end of an intense 10-day bootcamp, during which each team underwent mentorship from the local technology accelerator, start-up founders and corporate partners regarding their customer, product and market development.
Agriculture is changing and the pace of change itself is quickening. Entrepreneurs in agritech have gained encouraging momentum in the past couple of years.
Drones, sensors, robots and a slew of new and advanced technologies are being deployed in agriculture. Moreover, many start-ups are looking to tackle the pressing issues by providing exciting and innovative solutions across the supply chain. Technological invention and innovation, therefore, become integral in keeping the agriculture sector attractive for younger generations as well.
And while agriculture in the past, has been underfunded, things are changing rapidly which also brought about change in how the industry is seen.
During the event, participants came up with innovative solutions to address this issue and at the demo day. Three start-ups emerged as winners.
The first start-up is developing a machine-learning-based farming assistant for young and tech-savvy farmers to increase their future yields. They aim to optimise agriculture yield by at least 20% through a precision farming device.
This device updates the current condition of the crops and its environment, collating info via artificial intelligence, and data visualisation to provide yield forecasts, plant health, recommended prescriptions, data sharing, insights, profit analysis, and yield analysis.
This device aims not to replace farmers, but to anticipate status based on conditions unobservable to the naked eye.
The second start-up the other hand is producing black soldier fly (BSF) larvae using organic waste and turning them into livestock, animal and pet feed. 60% of the world’s grain is fed to farm animals and Malaysia imports 60% of its chicken feed, which greatly affects our food security.
To combat this, the start-up proposes an alternative – providing black soldier fly as animal feed. Not only do they grow fast (they can be harvested in just 10-15 days), they are extremely nutritional, resilient, and are non-invasive species.
The third winner is making P2P investment into agro-food farming simple and transparent. Currently, Malaysia faces a lack of sufficient and reliable data to assess investment risk. This lack of a method to assess risk has made funders much more risk-averse.
By having industry experts such as researchers and farmers in this current batch, the gap between entrepreneurs and industry experts is being bridged.
It was impressive how teams used deep tech and fintech solutions to optimise the agriculture scene. Impactful innovation and optimum deployment of technology tool come with a clear problem statement.
Events and opportunities like this bootcamp show that solutions to the various industries, in this case, Agriculture, can be done through entrepreneurial talents in the form of tech start-ups.