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Best of NAMA 2023












MINERAL FORMED AS AN ALPHABET (GOOGLE) UNIT, APPLIES AI AND COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY FOR AG'S USE
by Elliott Grant, Ph.D., Mineral CEO

In November at COP27, world leaders gathered at Sharm El Sheikh and bemoaned the impact agriculture is having on the world's climate. Collectively, food production contributes about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Bold initiatives to eat less meat, protect biodiversity, and sequester carbon in farmland were announced.

But however worthwhile and earnest these efforts are, they overlook a hard reality. A changing climate, supply interruptions and inflation, pests and disease resistance, regulatory requirements, out-of-date incentives, new practices such as cover cropping - all are increasing complexity and risk for farmers. The problem is not that farmers don't care about the environment. In fact, I know they care a great deal as it supports their livelihood, and farmland is often their greatest asset. The problem is that farmers don't have adequate tools to produce more, while using less, under increasingly challenging conditions.

If agriculture is so important, why isn't it getting the best tech?

Despite the hype, private and public investment in agriculture technology is far, far smaller than investments in other climate solutions, such as clean energy (for example, venture capital and private equity invested almost 70 times more in cleantech than agtech in 2021). If we are serious about helping agribusinesses transform and adapt, then they need access to the latest technologies and best science, adapted to the immense challenges of the global food system. Take data, for example. As an industry, farming remains one of the least digitized, according to McKinsey & Co. This poses a profound problem in our efforts to address the large-scale challenges facing agriculture today.

That trend is why Alphabet incubated Mineral at X, its moonshot factory, over the past 5 years. During that time we sought to validate that the technology had matured to be market-ready, and the opportunity to create a standalone company in agriculture was real. As of Jan. 1, 2023, as a new Alphabet company, Mineral is applying the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and computer science to the existential challenge of helping farmers around the world increase land productivity and sustainability.

To read the entire article click here.


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