Historically, ag technology has not been a very attractive industry for investors, but that attitude has changed significantly in recent years as demonstrated by the success of events like the Forbes AgTech Summit.
Patrick Zelaya is the owner and CEO of Heavy Connect, a mobile platform that assists growers with various types of paperwork. He was a featured speaker at this year’s summit in Salinas, where he discussed the benefits of ag technology investment and offered guidance on how to obtain funding. “You want to pick the right starting point for the best chance of success,” Zelaya noted.
Cultivating relationships with farmers and identifying where they would like to see improvements is an important first step. Tech creators are best served by designing their products to meet the most challenging conditions. “Build it around the most demanding, dynamic farming operations in the world…if it works for them, it works globally,” Zelaya said.
Testing products with growers on a local level to prove that it is viable for further development is also important. The next step would be working with more recognizable brands to help entice the venture capital community.
The need for continued development and investment in technologies for the agriculture sector stem from the rising cost of production. The increased amount of regulation, a shortage of labor and a rising minimum wage also contribute to the need for future investment. This sentiment was also expressed by Paul Wenger, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, in his testimony before the House Agriculture Committee.
The future prosperity of agriculture is going to rely heavily on technological breakthroughs that will assist growers in a multitude of ways. Investment in ag technologies is essentially an investment in the continued success of those who work in agriculture. “When farmers are successful, they increase their land. With increased land, comes more employees, more equipment, and a larger geography,” said Zelaya.