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Investment Opportunity in Climate-tech: Sustainable Agriculture and Land Use Patterns

An inclusive society living in harmony with nature

That is our vision, to transform us into an inclusive society living in harmony with nature. While we support STEM invention-led start-ups to support a just energy transition and a shift from extractive to a more circular economy, when it comes to agriculture and land use that accounts for close to a quarter of our GHG emissions, we struggle to follow the mainstream AgTech boom. Most of the investor capital today goes to eGroceries, branded foods, restaurants, and their enablers with less than 5% going towards climate-smart agriculture or land use. We believe that, to leapfrog into a more sustainable future, the way we produce, distribute, and consume food and our relationship with the land and the people that feed us needs to change. We are focused on driving investments from an extractive to a regenerative pathway for the development of agriculture by helping farmers invest in their soils through conservation agriculture and agroforestry practices, replenish watersheds, reduce the GHG footprint of farm produce and eliminate waste from the agriculture value chain. Beyond the farm, we look for solutions that can preserve local cultures and biodiversity.

A majority of India’s agricultural GHG emissions is most effectively tackled by addressing rice cultivation, small ruminants, promoting biogas, zero tilling practices, and reducing fertilizer use. Agroforestry, revitalizing pollinator populations and watershed management are key to combat rising desertification. We would love to work with start-ups tackling these challenges. We would love to work with start-ups reviving indigenous heirloom crops, alternative pathways to fertilizers or tapping into the soil microbiome through technology. We would love to help India reduce its dependence on vegetable oil imports and support the government of India’s push to shift farmers from growing rice to millet which are a lot less water-intensive with a significantly lower GHG footprint.

Our smallholder farmers are struggling to cope with the impacts of climate change. Poor people live in poor food systems and development is driving them away from nutrition and towards unhealthy calories. We would love to work with start-ups promoting community supported agriculture (CSA), food forest models, ideally promoting locally grown seasonal produce, and local cuisine and artisanal foods. This could come in the form of a conservation manifesto that a coffee company signs with its growers or a start-up that handholds farmers in its member network to build a model of self-certification linked regenerative farming practice. We would love to see some of the recent stakeholder protection strategies in the start-up ecosystem like, Urban Company’s Partner Stock Option Plan (PSOP) or DotPe’s capped commissions and access to customer information come to this space.

With impact investments crossing the trillion-dollar mark globally and climate change investments defying the current tech downturn, we would love to see the two come together to protect people and the planet. Many ecosystems around the world are reaching a tipping point driven by anthropogenic activity that threatens not just our way of life but life itself, for our species and the many we affect. Over the last three years, we have worked with some amazing land restoration entrepreneurs under the WRI-led Land Accelerator program and are now designing the way forward to invest into land restoration. We look forward to seeing how the impact investment community and the ecosystem for land restoration evolves to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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