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1478 people from 22 countries filled the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne on the 18 -19 February 2020 for the second evokeAG event.

AgriFutures Australia, Managing Director, John Harvey said evokeAG. has once again delivered on its promise to deliver leading-edge farming insights from the best in the world, and the response has been amazing.

“Armed with the latest technologies, innovations and insights, we can dive into 2020 knowing that we have the ability to respond to our changing markets and opportunities across the agricultural industry,” said Mr Harvey.

A highlight was leading Australian political journalist and former ABC Insiders program host Barrie Cassidy who led a robust panel discussion on how we can best respond to population growth, increasing food consumption and a demand to cater for diversified diets. Hungry Jacks Founder, Jack Cowin told the audience that a long-term strategy is needed in Australia to drive innovation in agriculture. “The DNA of Australia is entrepreneurial, we are early tech adopters in this country and we’re well equipped in this regard,” said Mr Cowin.

“My concern is the big stuff, what are the building blocks that this country needs to use to make us successful over the next forty and fifty years.”

Amazon Web Services’, Rachael Neumann, said research and development (R&D) in startups is a critical foundation to drive innovation.

“At the moment Australia invests 1.87% as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the global average is 2.3%,” said panel member, Ms Neumann.

“In Israel, 4.9% of GDP is invested in R&D so I think we still need to get better and from a policy perspective, if we want to drive innovation, we need to exceed those numbers.”

The two-day evokeAG. program saw more than 100 speakers from eight different countries take to the stage to inspire, challenge and transform the way we think about food and farming into the future. In a breakout session on how industry is adapting to Australia’s water shortages. Strategic Project Manager, Murray Dairy, Amy Fay said producers are going through transformative change in their businesses in order to achieve the step change in water use efficiency required.

“One example in the dairy industry is the move away from traditional perennial ryegrass species to other crops and forages that are more water use efficient or flexible in their water requirements. Adopting a different feed base system can increase water use efficiency from 1t/ML to upwards of 3t/ML, or alternatively allow farmers to reduce irrigation altogether and use conserved fodder when water availability is very tight.

“There are many ways farmers can increase water use efficiency on their farm. Across the industry, innovations in technology are only one small piece of the puzzle. Focusing on the value of water to their business, and the risks associated with volatile water availability will help farmers determine which practices are best suited to helping their business adapt to a water limited future,” said Ms Fay.

AgFunder’s Founding Partner Michael Dean capped off Day 2 with exciting news that investment into Australia’s agrifood technology has jumped by 83 per cent. Fresh statistics in AgFunder’s AgriFood Tech Investing Report – 2019 reveal Australia’s total investment is $90.3 million.

“Australia is one of the good news stories of 2019 with record growth in agrifood tech investment. It is also pleasing to see startups from across the supply chain receiving investment. There is still much to do but it is very encouraging to see such robust year on year growth over the past three years,” said Mr Dean.