It is the time of the year, when we take a moment to reflect. It is the time of COP (COP28), the time of the Regrow company founding anniversary, and seems like a natural opportunity to reflect on the progress of our industry and the company. [See last year’s reflection letter here.]
Seven years may seem like a long time in the life of an industry, but taking into account that agriculture, unlike other industries, only has one cycle a year - it’s not that many attempts to try to build something, and the stakes are high. 7 years is only 7 harvest in one hemisphere.
The last 7 have changed agriculture and the food industry with the launch of Sentinel satellites providing free Earth observation data in bands useful to crop monitoring to mass deployment of GPUs that lead to super-charged ML and AI applications like large scale agriculture monitoring.
Seven years ago, when Regrow was founded, there was no infrastructure, barely any APIs from Fam Management Systems, no off-the-shelf solutions for processing satellite imagery, let alone scope 3 commitments from industry primes. We started with a belief that informing on-farm decisions is a worthwhile endeavor, both from the perspective of improving resilience of farming families and their communities, as well as planetary resilience and protection of nature capital. Seven years ago there was no scalable pathway for paying farmers for making better decisions for the planet and their future yields, so we started with improving the farmer ROI on agronomic decisions like fertilizer application and crop performance management. Those applications have become the building blocks of a much larger agricultural management system that encompasses optimization of both productivity and the environmental impacts.
The phases of Regrow’s journey over the last 7 years have largely coincided with the phases of ag tech and climate tech industry maturing. This gave us a front row seat to climate action in agriculture and there is much progress to reflect on.
When I think of what gives me hope that the next 7 years, on the road to 2030, will be different from the last 7, I think of the last seven years as investment into building the foundation for scale.
Unlike seven years ago, we now have the infrastructure, the corporate commitments, increasing government funding and emerging regulations (the benefit of regulations is standardization and clarity) to propel climate action in agriculture. We have the talent keen to come into the industry and make a meaningful difference to its future. We have the capital, as climate resilience business models are proving to be the most financially resilient too. I would have found it hard to believe that we will go from building a niche segment of the science-based software to inform on-farm decisions to supporting largest food brands and making the TIME list twice in a year, when the COP has major industry focus. We interpret these changes, as signs that we are on the right path, as tokens of trust that we can, as an industry, make a difference, and Regrow has a critical role to play in empowering our community of changemakers to whom we owe all of our impact.
In fact, compared to last year’s reflection written at this time of year, 2023 alone has seen a lot of momentum. Many companies have increased their ambitions, re-evaluated and accelerated their strategies, stated refined goals, and allocated larger investments to regenerative transition and climate-positive agriculture. The industry has also welcomed new players into the space from both upstream and downstream parts of the supply chain, lowering the cost and increasing access to transition for all.
In short, I believe we have what we need to meet our 2030 goals, and we are gaining momentum.
It is not simple to change a complex, global industry but the accelerated progress over the last few years has shown that it is possible; if we rally together and align to the set of common goals.
Why aren’t we going faster? We are still building alignment, coordination, and most importantly cross-industry courage and trust.
We are re-aligning the system to a new set of goals and objectives. Agriculture industry of the future is the one that does not only look at productivity of the land, but prices in the cost of externalities and financially rewards investments into building resilience.
We are gaining momentum, and have been building the infrastructure for scale, but we certainly have no time to wait. The trajectory of agriculture in the next 7 years is in our hands, and it will be shaped by the decisions we make today.
The decisions we make in conversations with partners, suppliers, customers, government, and the public.
We must take risks, start not just seeding but scaling the change we need to get to 2030 intact, learn from the past and make new mistakes, and support each other in accelerating the transformation. To change makers of our industry, who we proudly serve - thank you!
Let’s make courageous choices and chart a path to a more resilient future. Together!
Video: Anastasia Volkova shares the 'why' behind her work at Regrow's Agriculture Resilience Summit in October 2023.
Note on progress:
Regrow’s Ag Resilience platform monitors 1.3 billion acres across 4 continents equivalent to 10%+ of the world's arable land, and supports practice changes by growers that are forecasted to abate more than 598K metric tonnes of CO₂e. That’s equivalent to the carbon sequestered by nearly 10 million trees. Regrow’s rapidly growing list of industry partners includes Nutrien, BASF, Cargill, General Mills, Kellanova (formerly part of Kellogg Company) and Oatly.