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Rebuilding Resilient Agri-Food Value Chains

Food and Beverages | Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The pandemic has exposed how the agri-food chain, like many other industries, is interdependent in the complex value chains.

FREMONT, CA: Environmental variability and shock events can be attenuated along food supply chains by several economic, political, and infrastructural factors. Food production, storage, processing, distribution, retail, and consumption are all exposed to various forms of environmental change, including slow-moving changes in average conditions, smaller-magnitude variations around those means and larger, anomalous disruptions, and many more. There have been considerable discussions across both conventional and social media about the requirement to develop greater resiliency into global food systems post COVID-19. One opportunity to attain this is using innovation to develop and commercialize new crops. Here is how developing a new crop species compares to the hurdles of introducing a new variety of an existing crop.

With an existing crop, the know-how and basics of growing so when people tweak the profile of an existing crop, the adoption at a farmers’ level is a lot seamless. Capturing the additional value of what farmers have done with that crop is the different hurdle ensuring that value is transmitted through the value chain. There are many hurdles involved in developing a new crop. If it is a biotech system, each from regulatory to the latest equipment, to new management, to additional supply chain stakeholders that farmers may have never dealt with before. Several stakeholders must think about who must be at the table as they navigate through the piloting and commercialization of a new crop.

Check Out: Agri Business Review

It takes stakeholders of the value chain, not just small firms. It takes research. The government's R&D investment to adapt varieties of the crop to the tropics and agronomic practices to farmers is a good example. Introducing and commercializing a novel crop has been more complex for farmers than what people know of introducing new varieties. Farmers have to be working in a business environment where they will be replacing a crop that is collapsing and where they are servicing a market need that nobody else can service. This convinces us to relegate a crop to being niche.

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