Today, the BC Government has launched the Agritech Concierge to help agricultural and agri-tech businesses grow, diversify, access new markets and attract investment opportunities. The concierge will provide personalized service to businesses to attract investment capital, navigate government programs and connect with other levels of government. This concierge will help companies understand and navigate the land opportunities available to grow their businesses and provide advice on how to work with communities to identify opportunities for investment.
“This is very important to Surrey not only because one-third of our land base is allocated to agricultural use but also to serve as a proactive way to strengthen local food security systems and global partnerships,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.
Farming is an expensive career path. Youth are finding it more and more difficult in accessing funds to pursue farming even though their families have been farming for generations. Fewer farmers lead to food insecurity and raises the price of food with broader economic implications. Land shortage and the high cost of farmland is also a factor in declining farming. The Surrey Board of Trade released a policy paper detailing the need for greater innovation in agricultural production through the use of non-traditional land and investing in vertical growing operations.
Potential benefits of vertical farms include:
More efficient use of limited land base (0.2h equivalent to 1.6-2.4h), onsite processing, energy sales from methane produced by compost, proximity to employees and markets;
Year-round production, no weather-related crop failures, no agricultural runoff, allowance for ecosystem restoration, organic premium, water use reduced 70-95% relative to outdoor crops, reduced food miles, control over food safety and security, purification of grey water to drinking water, animal feed from postharvest plant material;
Close integration of agricultural amenities into urban planning with agricultural capacity scalable to urban growth, cycling of organic resources, reduction or elimination of “food deserts”, increase in local employment, and revitalization of urban areas in decline.
QUICK FACTS ON THE BC GOVERNMENT PROGRAM:
· The Agritech Concierge program is open to high-growth potential companies that are a B.C.-based technology or agritech company, agricultural producer or agri-food company. Consideration will be given to companies outside of BC that intend to establish operations in BC in the near term.
· Agritech refers to the use of technology and technological innovation to improve efficiency and output of agricultural production. Examples of agritech include indoor growing, vertical growing, sensor technology, robotics, food processing technology, agricultural genomics and waste reduction technology.
To learn more about the Agritech Concierge program and eligibility criteria, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/economic-recovery/agritech-concierge
To read the Surrey Board of Trade policy on vertical growth visit: https://businessinsurrey.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Committing-to-vertical-growth.pdf