As demand for food rises, Israel doubles up on agritechNov. 7, 2012
There are more mouths to feed than ever but the number is still growing, according to Rurik Halaby, the CEO of New York-based AgriCapital, one of the largest mergers and acquisition firms working in the agritech space. “The demand for food will double by 2050. Fifty years ago, one hectare of land fed one person for a year. By 2050, we will have to increase that fivefold, so that a hectare feeds five people.”
A tall order, to be sure, but an order that Halaby believes Israeli agriculture technology can fill. AgriCapital, established by Halaby 30 years ago, is not an investment bank per se — Halaby prefers the term “advisers” to describe what AgriCapital does — but it does provide investment-bank type services, including helping companies secure financing, putting together merger and acquisition deals, and advising companies on industry issues and direction. As such, he has a wide-ranging — and long-tailed — view on what it takes to feed the world’s burgeoning population.
There are three main trends affecting agritech, and Israel is an important player in all three, Halaby told The Times of Israel during the Go4Europe conference in Tel Aviv last week. “There are more mouths to feed, but at the same time people are getting wealthier and want higher quality food” — meaning that they are no longer satisfied with grains as the mainstay of their diets, but are demanding meat and other proteins. “Agribusiness today is also very globalized,” Halaby said.
And, of course, there is the growth in agricultural technology — “growing food on less arable land, dealing with a lack of water, ensuring production in changing weather patterns, etc.,” said Halaby. “Today the production of food depends a great deal on technology.”
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