Today, the Western Growers CIT Global Advisory Board met for the first time.

It’s been a ‘work in progress’ since earlier in the year and it’s great that we have finally got it across the line. It’s been a privilege to work with Dennis Donohue, Director of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, as the Board’s co-convener and a pleasure to be working with our engaged and globally-connected colleagues.

The Advisory Board has been established to address three areas of common purpose.

  1. To provide agritech companies from around the world with a landing pad at the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology facility in Salinas, Northern California.
  2. To provide Western Grower members (they produce over 50% of all North American fresh produce – fruit, vegetables, nuts & organics) with solutions designed to address some of their most significant challenges. These include;
    • Labor: Lack of & cost of. How to effectively increase automation across the production process
    • Rapid Diagnostics: Identification and eradication of plant pests / disease that threaten food security and safety
    • Water: Sustainability and resource management
    • Data: Collection and management
    • The building and training of an agricultural labor force for the future
  3. To provide the Center’s tenants with access to, and potential collaboration with, global partners

Over the coming months, the Advisory Board will be sharing some of the key challenges facing Western Grower members with the intention of generating global input. If you believe that your agritech business can help address these challenges, a call to action will include an opportunity to present your solution.

To support this, Western Growers are developing a Grower Trial Network that will enable agritech companies to test their technology in-market. Understanding the challenges from the grower’s perspective is a hugely important component in the plan. Being ‘big’ in other geographies does not necessarily guarantee domestic grower adoption in the US. Local knowledge, local visibility and access to a receptive local ecosystem all have a huge role to play.

It’s early days, but I am confident that today’s first meeting will provide significant opportunities for global agritech companies looking to expand their footprint into North America. Dennis and the team in Salinas are keen to engage. So are our colleagues who make up the Advisory Board.

For agritech companies in my part of the world, I’ll be sharing details of these opportunities with both Agritech New Zealand and the Australian Agritech Association. If you are developing solutions for the specialty crop market and want to scale offshore, I cannot really think of a better opportunity out there.