In early June, USAID and its partners hosted the first Ag Innovation Investment Summit to connect investors with innovators at the food-water-energy nexus and to accelerate game-changing technologies that can help smallholder farmers improve their productivity and competitiveness.
Sixty innovators from Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development; Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development; and Feed the Future’s Partnering for Innovation Program showcased their innovations in: 1) The open marketplace, 2) TED talk-style presentations, 3) A pitch competition, and 4) “Match-making” sessions with potential funders.
Here are 26 things we learned at the event that are worth sharing:
1) Private investment is crucial to fulfilling sustainable development goals.
2) Partners across the ag sector can help to catalyze innovation and help transform ag.
3) In agriculture, there’s needs to be disruption along the whole value chain.
4) Women make up 43% of the agricultural labor force across developing countries. Women need to be involved in the solutions proposes.
5) Government needs to encourage innovation internally and externally.
6) If we want to change the world, we have to have institutional innovation.
7) Social impact and development should be in every corporation’s sustainability portfolios.
8) Feeding the future requires partnerships, hard evidence and an ardent focus on results.
9) Solving hard problems is intrinsically rewarding.
10) We need to use evidence where it exists and build it where it doesn’t.
11) We need to embed M&E DNA across all innovators.
12) We need to have more segmentation in social impact investing.
13) We need a diversity of ideas, solutions and perspectives to achieve food security.
14) We can’t forget the need to get a financial return in investment.
15) Ideas are nothing without execution.
16) The management team embodies the greatest risk for investors.
17) Spurring a social movement of ag will reap great returns.
18) You can reach a million farmers with ICT for Ag.
19) Weather can be predicted with 84% accuracy.
20) Governments needs to reach beyond the usual suspects for innovation.
21) You can grow pumpkins (“magic golden balls”) on sand.
22) Ag tech can reduce poverty and empower women.
23) Ag tech can help to mitigate climate change.
24) Food and water scarcity affects all of us.
25) Innovation can have multiple owners.
26) Technology can change lives.