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Maximizing Investments Opportunities In Agricultural Biotechnology

by Sanusi Afeez Opeyemi

When you hear about biotechnology or agricultural biotechnology, what comes to mind? 

Do you think of a scientist in a lab coat making the next Covid-19 virus from a Chinese bat? Or, do you think of hero movies with a superman trying to save the world from a biotech weapon? 

Sci-Fi movies often depict biotechnology as a threat to the existence of humanity. But in reality, agricultural biotechnology could save the world, including the superman, from hunger. It could also create many opportunities for Agritech investors.

In this article, we’ll look at the investment opportunities in agricultural biotechnology. We’ll also cover how you can take advantage of them.

Agricultural Biotechnology and Why It’s Relevant?

 When was the last time you had a full square meal of balanced diets? Whether you answered yes or no. The truth is, the hunger crisis is getting worse.

This calls for a solution that not only puts food on the table but does so sustainably. Agricultural biotechnology uses genetic engineering and precision farming. Thus, it makes food cheaper and easier to get.

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Recent Trends Driving Investment in Agricultural Biotechnology 

Agricultural biotechnology is an interesting field. It has seen some of the most groundbreaking technologies and innovations in Agritech today. 

This is because we need to produce more food. We need to feed a growing population of 7 billion people. But, resources like water and arable land are declining. Here are profitable and impactful areas that startups and investors need to watch out for:

1- Biofortified Crops

CRISPR-Cas9 and other gene editing tools are being used to produce crops. The results are crops with enhanced traits, higher nutrition, and climate resilience. A good example of this is the orange-fleshed sweet potato rich in vitamin A. Another is biofortified maize with increased zinc content. All these were developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, in partnership with HarvestPlus.

 Other remarkable developments in gene editing are the creation of non-browning mushrooms . Others are disease-resistant varieties of rice and wheat. In 2023,Indigo Agriculture, raised $360 million in series F funding. The company is working on producing biofortified crops.

2- Biopesticides Production 

Today, much of the food we consume is unsafe, even when it looks healthy and clean. This is often attributed to farmers’ misuse and reliance on synthetic pesticides.

This is where agricultural biotechnology comes to the rescue. It produces biopesticides from natural sources like bacteria, fungi, or plant extracts. This provides a safer alternative to customers. People are now worried about the safety of synthetic pesticides. They are even more concerned about their residues in the food they eat. 

Investors like companies that make these biopesticides. They offer a solution that fits a growing demand. Also, biopesticide companies face fewer regulatory hurdles due to their lower risk.

3- Artificial Intelligence in Agricultural Biotechnology

A.I. is driving big changes across industries. Agricultural biotechnology is no exception. Now, researchers can perform genome sequencing and analysis. This allows researchers to speed up the pace of developing new crop varieties. These new varieties have higher yields and better nutrition.

The future of agricultural biotechnology lies in making sustainable food production systems. These systems will optimize resource use. They will also ensure food security for a growing global population. This is good news for Agritech investors. The ones who want to invest in agricultural social enterprises.

Risks and Challenges of Investing in Agricultural Biotechnology 

Agricultural biotechnology isn’t without its own risks. This is important for you as an investor or agritech startup founder. You need to become aware of possible challenges. You must also learn how to tackle them.

1- Regulatory Hurdles and Long Timelines 

Bringing new GMOs to the market is hard. It involves tough safety tests and regulatory approvals. 

This process can take much longer, delaying product launch and return on investment. But, these rules are important. They are in place to ensure the best quality and to minimize harm to people.

2- Public Perception and Consumer Acceptance 

Another hurdle faced by agricultural biotechnology is controlling public opinion. As a consumer yourself, what’s your perception of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)?

I was chatting with a friend about GMOs a few days ago. He argued that GMOs are deadly because they contain harmful chemicals. He says these chemicals could slowly reduce consumers’ lifespan. 

Now, if you have the same opinion. GMOs aren’t made by injection but by crossing plants with desirable traits. Chemicals didn’t make GMOs bigger or more nutritious. Genes are responsible for these changes.

3- Infrastructure Requirements 

Implementing some agricultural biotech solutions might require significant upgrades in developing countries. Universities and research institutions need full funding. They need it to do research and trials on results-focused agricultural biotechnology. 

This would help create much-needed synergy. It would unite the public and private sector. The unity would help attract important investments into agricultural biotech.

Recommendations for Boosting Investments in Agricultural Biotechnology 

We’ve discussed at length the prospects and challenges of agricultural biotechnology investments. But how do we scale through the above hurdles? How do we build a global food system powered by sustainable agritech? 

First, we must create an international standard for GMOs and other biotech products. This is to cut the duplication of effort from country to country. It will also lower the cost of regulatory approvals. 

Then, we need to change how the public sees GMOs. We must do this through community-based events and agritech education. Finally, it is important that governments, research institutions, and private companies collaborate on impactful biotech projects.

Agricultural Biotechnology: Forging A Path Towards Food Security 

In a world where over 1 billion people suffer from food insecurity. Biotechnology can end the hunger crisis by providing nutritious food. It can also open up new ways of making food healthier and more plentiful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are GMOs safe to eat?

Many studies have shown that GMOs are not inherently unsafe to eat. However, each GMO product undergoes strict safety tests. They must pass these tests before being approved for commercial use.

 Is agricultural biotechnology a good investment? 

Agricultural biotechnology could grow fast. It is driven by a growing global population and the need for more food. But, there are also risks and challenges. So, careful research is essential before investing.

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