Common Thread: USAID's AgTechXChange and the Ag Innovation Showcase

With global population estimated to exceed 9 billion people in 2050, it will take a 60% increase in agricultural production, mostly through increases in yield and the use of "smart" agriculture. USAID's Feed the Future program recently launched an online platform, AgTechXChange, as a forum for innovators to exchange ideas, seek funding opportunities and relevant research. The program was launched at the G-8 Summit in Italy. It serves as a connector to the resources and expertise of 11 Federal agencies. This was in response to President Obama's call in 2009 for global powers to invest and develop a strategy to enhance food security. The U.S. commitment was $3.5 billion over the course of three years. Also in 2009, Larta Institute and partners Danforth Plant Science Center and BRDG Park, recognized the need for innovators, investors and industry figures to come together in an exploration of issues and solutions. The result: The Ag Innovation Showcase.

In the past seven years, Ag Showcase has established a loyal following, organized a community, and served as a physical gathering place for innovations from around the globe. It has featured panelists and presentations addressing pressing global issues, curated scores of innovations in animal health, biofuels, biotechnology, precision ag, and more recently, the push into biological solutions that engineer plant response using natural elements.

“The common thread here is a unanimous global recognition that ag and tech are complementary and intrinsically linked drivers in assuring the world's food future,” says Rohit Shukla, Larta's CEO, whose passion and commitment have been manifested at the Ag Innovation Showcase.

We welcome USAID's global push into agricultural innovation. USAID, along with Feed the Future and Omnivore Venture Partners will host a Special Content Session "A Billion Smallholders:Bringing Ag Tech Into New Markets" at this year's Showcase. This session is a recognition of the fact that 50 percent of the world's food is and will be produced by 48 percent of its farmers, in small holder farms across the world.

The Ag Innovation Showcase takes place in St. Louis, Mo from September 14-16. The event is a joint effort of Los Angeles-based Larta Institute, and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and BRDG Park, both based in St. Louis, Mo. The 2015 Showcase will feature 19 innovative AgTech companies and some 400 attendees from 14 countries.