Anyone with an interest in agricultural tech startups will find this session, golden

#CHFoodFuture warmup – session 4

Burning questions on global food security will be addressed next week at the conference A Sustainable Future: production supply and consumption at Chatham House, London. The entire event is divided into five sessions and each could be a conference in itself. It’s important to warmup and enter the right mindset before the event begins next Monday 7th December 2015. To help do that, each day this week I will post an entry discussing each session. Click here to read session 3: Should there be more agricultural scientists and less food marketers?

Session 4 – Mobilizing Food Research, Development and Finance

The five questions discussed in the session are:

  1. What can be done to support technological developments with the potential to revolutionize global food systems?
  2. What are the barriers to scaling up to existing technologies? How might these areas be overcome within Europe as well as in developing countries?
  3. How can the private sector be incentivised to invest in the development of other agribusiness?
  4. How can international cooperation be encouraged to increase investment in the food system including in technological advancements?
  5. To what extent can unconventional protein sources (including plant-based protein, algae and lab-grown meat) and genetically modified crops and animal products contribute to more sustainable, more nutritious and fairer consumption patterns?

Used with permission from Lisa Delgado Castillo

Sensors, precision harvesters and mowers, drones, herbicides and weeding compositions, GMO seeds, polymeric compositions, planting methods for vegetables and fruits, aquaponics, hydroponics, corn varieties and hybrids, are just a few of the agriculture patents registered worldwide between 2010 and 2014 according to the Crop Farming 2030 report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). According to the BCG report,in the last five years patents were registered as follows:

  • Crop protection: 6,815
  • Precision and conventional equipment: 5,337 patents
  • Seeds: 2,407
  • Fertilizers: 987

Amongst those categories, patent distribution per category amongst regions was:

  • Crop protection: Europe (35%), North America (35%), China (23%), and elsewhere (7%)
  • Precision and conventional equipment: North America (70%), Europe (15%), China (8%), and elsewhere (7%)
  • Seeds: North America (78%), Europe (19%), China (2%), and elsewhere (1%)
  • Fertilisers: North America (28%), Europe (4%), China (53%), and elsewhere (15%)

Immediately, several questions come to mind: why are seed patents overwhelmingly recorded in North America? What are the implications for the rest of the world, in particular, for smallholder farmers who constitute 98% of global farms? Overall, Africa and Latin America have a small role in patent registration. These two regions also have high rates of family farming: 97% in Africa and 82% in South America (source). Does this matter? What can we say about low patent registration in countries with very high percentages of family farming?

Used with permission by Lisa Delgado Castillo


Sir Gordon Conway, Professor of International Development, Imperial College London and Chair, Montpellier Panel


  • Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission
  • George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, UK
  • Frank Rijsberman, Chief Executive Officer, CGIAR Consortium
  • Rob Bertram, Chief Scientist, USAID Bureau for Food Security
  • Nick von Westenholz, CEO, Crop Protection Association

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