Agtech pioneer Matthew Pryor believes agriculture’s next growth frontier will be in the export of industries’ intellectual property (IP).
The agriculture technology startup advisor, and chairman of Rocket Seeder, told the Australian Grains Industry Conference, held in Melbourne last week, exports of agricultural technology “know-how” could be of greater value than using this knowledge to boost on-farm productivity.
“I like to think about it in terms of differentiating between us as a produce economy and a knowledge economy,” Mr Pryor said.
“We have access to great resources to drive productivity in agricultural land – we are experts at that.”
But using technology to make producers more efficient and grow more food was limited by the amount of available land and supply chain constraints, he said.
“At the same time we are producing as much as we can, how can we create a whole new category of products and services, help others leverage our know-how, embed that into products and services and sell them on a global basis?” Mr Pryor said.
While the increase in agricultural productivity remains stagnant at two per cent annually, he said Australia’s growth potential in a knowledge economy was unlimited.
“I think two per cent is where we need to be just to keep up with demand from population growth and changes in dietary preferences,” Mr Pryor said.
“In a sense, we can be responsible for producing enough food for one billion or more, simply by allowing others to get access to the products we create and export them.”
He forecast Chinese manufacturing would slow as the One-Belt, One-Road, or the Silk Road Economic Belt, transitioned the economy away from its heavy reliance on manufacturing.
“We have to have the same view about our expertise in agricultural technology – globalise that expertise and monetise it,” Mr Pryor said.
While Mr Pryor applauded the State Government’s global search for Internet of Things providers, he had reservations about its primary focus on lifting production.
“It’s all very well to have equipment connected out in the productive environment but people have to be connected as well,” Mr Pryor said.
AgriDigital chief executive, Emma Weston, said agtech developed in Australia needed to be scaled and sold globally.
“This is not necessarily about creating more production within Australia, but actually creating agricultural IP exports,” Ms Weston said.
While Australia only had certain markets where it could export agricultural products, she said agricultural related IP could be exported across the world.