The global unicorn club has been making waves across news channels for the past 10 years. Tech Titans like Uber, Airbnb, and Coinbase, valued at over $1 billion, are synonymous with disruption, and consequently, are crowd favorites when it comes to venture investment. However, a slower moving industry like food and agriculture, which is valued at $2.4 trillion and provides 1.3 billion jobs to 19% of the world’s population, is often depicted as lagging behind the innovation curve. As a result, these industries have historically experienced a smaller spoon of venture capital to keep the mixing bowl up to the flavors of constantly changing consumer preferences.
While unicorn Agtech startups have not yet emerged, legacy players in the farming business have lived a long shelf life doing business in feeding the world. Notably, some of the top billionaires across the globe are actually underestimated farmers and agri-businessmen. These players have an opportunity to contribute to the next revolution in agriculture by investing in or collaborating with some of the up and coming Agtech disruptors such as those found in programs like TERRA Food + Ag Accelerator.
6 Farmers with the Power to Accelerate Agriculture
Scoping the planet for the wealthiest farmers in the land, we’ve unearthed the following green thumb giants who could (given their net worth) triple their earnings by collaborating with disruptors, and give rise to the first Agtech Unicorn :
Founder of Dangote Cement, the largest cement producer on the African continent, and the wealthiest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote recently invested $3.8bn in rice and sugar production in Nigeria. With energy and water management as major obstacles on the African continent, leveraging systems like CropX, SWIIM, and mOasis will help deliver the right amount of water to every plant while saving on energy.
Stewart Resnick bought his first farmland in California back in 1978 and has since grown his empire by producing and selling almonds, oranges, and grapefruits. It’s been said that almost half of the USA purchases their products, which includes Fiji Water, Halos Mandarin Oranges, and POM Wonderful. To increase traceability and reduce food waste from farm to market, Resnick can turn to solutions such as FullHarvest or Ripe.io.
Liu Yongxing and his brothers began their farming journey in the 1980s with a small farm of chickens and quails, and are now amongst the richest people in China. Liu is the founder of East Hope Group which produces aluminum, cement, and animal feed. With growing food safety concerns, companies such as Clear Labs can be utilized to automate food safety platforms for routine pathogen detection.
4. Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer | Middle East | Net Worth: $4.99 Billion USD
Sultan Al Kabeer, a member of the Saudi royal family, founded Almarai in 1977, one of the largest dairy operators in the Middle East. Sultan Al Kabeer has the opportunity to lead the healthy living revolution by scaling solutions for dairy alternatives such as plant-based products like Miyoko’s.
Vadim Moshkovich is the founder of Rusagro, one of the largest pork and sugar producers in Russia. As such, there is an opportunity to monitor the safety and survival of piglets with AI and sensor-based technologies like Swinetech.
Gustav Magnar Witzøe, Norway’s richest man and the third youngest billionaire in the world, is part owner of Salmar, a Norwegian fish farming company, and the world’s largest salmon producer. Salmar can prevent product recalls due to foreign object contamination by leveraging hyperspectral technologies, such as the one created by Impact Vision, while keeping the fish fresh through smart packaging solutions like BluWrap.
An Appetite for Growth
Technology is changing the way we cultivate, produce, and purchase our food. With a global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, there is enormous pressure on the Food and Ag sector to produce more while using fewer resources. The legacy giants such as those listed above can take part in making monumental strides in shaping the future of the industry by leveraging up and coming innovators and scaling their impact.
Are you working to innovate and make an impact on your business and the world? Leverage the Corporate Innovation Program Playbook to learn how you can utilize technology to scale up to feed the planet.