AG TECH – Australia must feed China, or else

Internet of Things and AI expert Eitan Bienstock believes that if Australia doesn’t produce enough food to feed China – China will eventually just take what it needs. 

“Australia has to innovate when it comes to producing food for our own country, and for Asia,” said the Israeli-born Bienstock, who now lives in Sydney. 

Bienstock believes Agtech, the marrying of agriculture and technology, will help Australia by increasing food production dramatically over the next few decades. 

“We have to do this because, by then, the United States won’t be in a position to defend us,” he said. 

Bienstock’s frightening prediction is not far-fetched in an increasingly over-populated world, where rising temperatures and water scarcity present new and often impossible challenges for food producers. 

In 2013 China, developed a new food security strategy to address the fact that it has 19 per cent of the global population, yet holds only 7 per cent of the arable land and freshwater. The most recent plan recognises that imports will become part of China’s food security approach. 

Even the United Nations has recognised climate change as a ‘threat to world peace.’

Australia’s opportunity

However, the IoT entrepreneur also believes that Australia’s 136,000 farms can meet the challenge to increase food production, if investment increases in the Agtech sector. 

It’s a theory echoed in a report by the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University, which claims that, with further investment, the Australian agriculture could become a A$100b industry by 2030 – matching the country’s mining and construction sectors. 

The report cites Australia’s weak investment in the Agtech sector, compared to the US, Canada and Israel. 

In Australia most Agtech startup businesses focus on digital technologies like smart-farm equipment, software, sensors, imagery and supply-chain logistics. 

Bienstock says he has seen an increase in venture capital funding for agricultural innovation in the past 12 months. However, he said there now needs to be a focus on scaling their products to national and international markets.

Bienstock said that Australians possess the ingenuity and skill to deliver world class agricultural innovation to the world.

“Bienstock believes that, like the Israelis, who invented drip irrigation in the sixties, the next innovation is around the corner.

The entrepreneur is behind the Everything IoT Food and Agriculture Forum 2019 to be held in Sydney this Thursday (June 27). Startup founders will get to pitch their innovation ideas to an expert Agtech panel.

“We need to identity new ideas and get behind them,” said Bienstock.

“There is a terrific opportunity for Australia to become a paid provider of food, rather than the very unpleasant alternative.”