Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Food and agriculture companies seeking to secure future food supply pitch innovative ideas

Innovation in food and agriculture is the only way we are going to feed a population of 12 billion people by 2100, according to Rabobank.

With no more arable land, no more water and fewer resources, the options are limited.

Rabobank has launched its Australian arm of the successful US program FoodBytes, which has seen 750 companies from around the world pitching innovative ideas to increase production.

They range from seaweed pasta to using food waste to grow fly larvae to feed to livestock.

The bank has staged an extravagant conference on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour, called Farm2Fork, replete with a Dutch royal visit, where innovative companies pitched for funding through a competition called FoodBytes.

Rabo Group board member responsible for international food and agriculture, Berry Marttin, told the crowd of entrepreneurs and investors that with 12 billion mouths to feed by 2100, innovation was key.

“I think the most promising idea right now is using nature to increase yields, using bugs, what we know about plants to get better growth,” Mr Marttin said.

“I think we’re coming to the end of yield improvement using chemicals, using data, artificial intelligence, precision farming, employing bugs, sending the exact amount of water to plants.”

Rabobank is not alone in envisioning agriculture and food innovation as a growth area, with the National Farmers Federation starting Sprout, with a pool of just $10 million, backed by super funds and banks.

Mr Marttin said Rabo could link with Sprout in Australia.

“Because we all know that innovation is getting people together with partnerships,” he said.

“In the US we partner with Rocket Space, which is where the likes of Uber was created.”

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