CASA highlights investment opportunities in climate-smart agriculture technologies

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The latest report from CASA explores investment opportunities in climate smart agriculture. Alvaro Valverde, from CASA said; “Whilst the COP26 opening presentations spent a lot of time setting out the scale of the global challenge, we have focused on some of the concrete opportunities that investors will be able to focus on in the short and medium term, to facilitate action.

This includes eight climate smart agriculture technologies, which show promise for growth, investment viability, and relevance in emerging markets in Africa and Asia for smallholders and agribusinesses. We hope that this report and our 4×4 briefings will inspire leaders to adapt some of these approaches and drive them forward appropriate business models.”

The technologies are:

  • Digital platforms that bundle together climate-smart advisory services with other complementary products and services are helping to minimize transaction and marketing costs for companies and providing a more integrated and holistic offering to farmers.
  • Smart irrigation involves the coupling of sensors, control instruments, and irrigation machinery with computer models and meteorological information for real-time farm management.
  • Solar-powered micro drip irrigation systems, which are able to help farmers in arid and drought-affected areas to sustainably increase yields and crop resilience, with minimal use of scarce water resources and no ongoing energy costs.
  • Solar-powered processing equipment enables perishable products to be stored and eaten out of season, reducing pressure on other commodities, and the need to import products, and maximizing the value of the goods by making it possible to sell them when there is a supply shortage.
  • Solar-powered cold storage solutions help to prevent food wastage and spoilage, particularly in increasingly humid conditions and extreme temperatures.
  • Bio-coatings make use of organic inputs for the natural coating of fruits and vegetables, which can lengthen their shelf-life. Bio-coatings can be particularly useful in preserving fresh goods under climate-related stresses, such as increased heat or humidity.
  • Biodigesters make use of crop and livestock waste to produce biogas and rich organic inputs for crop farming.
  • Biocontrol products and precision applicators enable farmers to minimize the inputs they use for crop protection in their responses to increasing plant health threats driven by climate change.

Whilst setting an optimistic note about the potential of these technologies, the report also determines areas where investors and enablers can come together to offer greater support.

Valverde continues: “One of the key issues is the need for reliable data systems for investors to engage more in nature- and climate-positive business outcomes. This can help drive more early-stage venture capital and angel investors in climate smart agricultural technology, backed by growth-stage technical assistance.

It is also essential that inclusive business models are developed that support small-scale producers to access the technologies. This could be moving from retailing hardware to service provision in low-income settings; bundling with complementary products and services while addressing demand-side constraints for farmers; or addressing the lack of affordable finance serving the needs of smallholders and agri-businesses.”

There are clear recommendations in the report:

For investors

• Increase early-stage financing

• Improve climate risk assessment systems

• Seek business models which address the issue of financial access for end-users

• Work with enablers to identify investmentready climate smart technologies

For enablers

• Focus support on growth-stage businesses, not just ideation

• Target concessional finance at last-mile distributors

• Co-develop clear nature and biodiversity markets and investment guidelines

For donors

• Invest in additional research to demonstrate the viability of impactfocused commercial investment models

• Raise awareness of innovative CSA technologies

• Target demand-side constraints to unlock market potential

For CASA

• Continue supporting agribusinesses with climate-responsive technical assistance and relevant research for policymakers and investors

• Continue to communicate with investors through the innovative ‘4×4’ information videos and regional investor forums are planned following COP26 exploring both the technical challenges and how to mobilize private capital towards reaching the $100bn per year climate finance goal.

• CASA’s research agenda will address these information gaps and explore how to improve the enabling environment for climate-responsive investments in agriculture.

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