A day at TechBBQ | Digitalisation’s role in shaping agriculture - A pathway to sustainability?

15 September 2022. Tech BBQ, Copenhagen.

They started coming “en masse” from early morning eager to see, hear and experience the latest in tech. Everyone seemed to be there – Google, Meta, the Crown Prince of Denmark, journalists, investors – all joining the latest innovative start ups and scale ups pushing the barriers, kicking their way in and ready to make waves... the Nordic way. 

As with any Scandinavian event, the day had to start with coffee. After all, nothing brings people closer together than getting their coffee fix (and networking). Chats included: the “must-attend” panels, which stages, and what were the buzz topics on everyone’s lips.

As the Community Engagement Officer at Agreena, I was there to collect sound bites, snapshots at the event, and engage with the ecosystem that is driving impact in the climate and agri-sector

And if I am being honest, pretty soon I had my head in the stars, pulsing to the sound of the buzzwords flying in the air: “Fintech”, “AI”, “VR”, “VC”. Half excited, half overwhelmed, I sat down for our panel - Digitalisation’s role in shaping agriculture - a pathway to sustainability?, and took away from it something I did not expect- a breath of fresh air bringing my feet back on the ground.


Why is technology exciting on the ground?

To enable food security we need “to increase food production by 60% over one and a half decade.”But,“We basically have 60 years of arable farming left. In 60 years our soils are dead,” said our co-founder and CEO, Simon Haldrup. 

Now, that helped put things into perspective. 

It is not about technology in itself, it is about the immense challenge ahead of us. What is obvious is that we cannot continue with the industrial farming model that we have today. Technology is not a magic wand, but it is the enablement. We need digitalisation and innovation for a purpose - to improve and transform our agricultural practices. As Simon put it, ”There is a time value in action here. We need to put boots on the ground - and technology is the enabler to mobilise farmers.” 

But, although farming has been labelled as both part of the problem and solution to our depleted resources and climate change, the weight of this transition is not all on farmers. The consensus of the panel which included expert representation from Kinnevik, Vaeksfonded, and Foodprint Nordic was that speeding up the transition demands:

  • Educating new generation of farmers about regenerative practices and carbon farming
  • Implementing directives that encourage best practices to protect the environment and guide the farmers
  • Raising accountability, traceability and reliable data
  • Funding to develop innovation and implement solutions and actions now
  • Technology to help mobilise and connect actions and solutions across sectors, stakeholders and geographies

What is crucial is a systemic and industrial change, and technology is one of the key enablers for the transition to the sustainable farming practices we need.

I definitely left this panel and TechBBQ feeling inspired and excited about the next steps we can all take to bring value to our farmers and take the journey along their side.