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Overseas agritech firms' investment to boost Vietnam's agriculture
Phi Nhat 09:27, 2021/08/10
Agritech companies from the GRAFT Challenge Vietnam would kickstart a wave of agricultural innovation in the country.

This August, nine scale-ups will begin receiving GRAFT’s 15-week program of tailored support, during which a network of in-market experts will provide bespoke consultation to help the scale-ups validate their technologies. This phase of the program will culminate with the scale-ups presenting their solutions to Vietnamese agricultural corporations at an intensive week-long roadshow.

Jala, a big data solution for shrimp farmers. Photo: Jala

After a competitive and inspiring online challenge, the selection committee of GRAFT Challenge Vietnam has chosen nine leading agritech scale-ups from overseas to enter the Vietnamese market such as AgNext Technologies, Cropln (India), EveryPig (the US), Hillridge Technology (Australia), JalaTech, Koltiva (Indonesia), ListenField (Thailand), Sufresca (Israel) and Tepbac (Vietnam).

Designed to give promising innovators from around the world bespoke support to scale into Vietnam with the aim of solving the country’s most pressing agrifood challenges, the GRAFT project is funded by the Australian Government through its Aus4Innovation program and in partnership with Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

According to the program, proposed solutions included integrated IoT solutions to improve water quality in local aquaculture systems, microbial solutions for environmentally-friendly crop health management, and microclimate monitoring and control systems for safer and more energy-efficient piggeries. All the scale-ups were either post-revenue or had previously graduated from a top global accelerator program.

Challenges to be handled 

Koltiva, providing tailor-made software platforms and professional services in end-to-end business solutions, is one of the nine scale-ups in the challenge with the participation from 16 countries including the US, Israel, Australia, India, and Thailand. 

Manfred Borer, CEO of Koltiva believes the company is aligned with the aim of the GRAFT Challenge by providing state of the art web and mobile technologies, that aim to better smallholder farmer productivity and product quality as well as supplying enterprises of all levels the integration they need to manage their sustainability project activities and trace their raw materials through all stages of the supply chain.

Justin Ahmed, GRAFT Program Lead said: “The caliber of this year's applicants exceeded even our already-high expectations. The market-ready solutions and capabilities carried by our inaugural cohort will help many of Vietnam's agrifood industry leaders to solve some of their toughest challenges.”

Prior to the challenge, the GRAFT team had convened industry working groups of Vietnamese agribusiness corporates to identify the unique challenges that face Vietnam’s crops and plantations, aquaculture, and livestock industries. Many of these challenges were related to climate-driven production risk, improving feed cost-efficiency, reducing post-harvest losses, and building consumer trust. 

 Field Agents can ​communicate through FarmXtension ​with farmers, ​traders, and ​input suppliers to arrange visits, coaching, and business support. Photo: Koltiva

Borer, CEO of Koltiva defined a multitude of issues for agricultural supply chains in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, including poor market transparency, improper farm management, and limited access to formal financial services and farm inputs. 

The company aims to provide technical solutions to overcome the triple challenge of feeding a growing population while providing a livelihood for farmers and at the same time protecting the environment. “We are sure that Koltiva will be able to overcome any barriers to start building up a committed client base in Vietnam,” he told The Hanoi Times.

A wave of agricultural innovation

Tom Wood, Program Director of Aus4Innovation said the success of the program in selecting a strong cohort gives Aus4Innovation even more confidence in this public-private partnership. 

“Agrifood is a priority sector for Australia’s development efforts in Vietnam, and we believe these companies have the potential to kickstart a wave of agricultural innovation in the country,” Wood said.

Borer underlined that it is a great opportunity for an established agritech company like Koltiva with experience in the region to enter the market for sustainable production and supply chain software solutions, he added. “With eight years of experience in Indonesia, we are hungry and predestined to expand our solutions to Vietnam.”

Vietnam is an important market within Southeast Asia and establishing a local presence is a key in the Koltiva long-term strategy of becoming the market leader in the region for farm management and traceability information systems, he added.

He added Vietnam is one of the largest coffee and rubber producers globally and an important country to expand its CoffeeTrace and RubberTrace solutions, respectively. Besides access to the Vietnamese market with current single-commodity application solutions, the agritech company can add on any food- and non-food (natural resources) supply chains into KoltiTrace platforms, based on the demand of the GRAFT Challenge partner companies in Vietnam that aim to work with the company, he said.

Quang Phan, Director of the Mekong Business Initiative Company said his team was very excited that many of this year’s applicants presented digital and data-driven solutions for lingering production challenges in Vietnam. 

“We’re thrilled to start working with these scale-ups as they bring their solutions into the Vietnamese market,” Quang said.

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