In this article from YoStartups, we discuss the State of AgriTech in France and how France has always been a pioneer in adopting technology to boost agricultural output in the entire European Union.
We all know France as a global hub for art, science, and philosophy. What is interesting to note is that France is also the leading agricultural power of Europe. The French agriculture production is leading Europe as, in 2011, their base price value was more than €70.4 billion. The country’s 18 integral regions are spread over a combined area of 643,801 square km which reside a total population of almost 67 million people.
The country is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the third largest in terms of the number of sites in Europe, and hosts more than 83 million tourists per year, more than any other country in the world. Other than being a leader for tourism, France is also a front-runner for agriculture in Europe, making it a perfect ground for AgTech or AgriTech companies.
Agriculture in France
As mentioned earlier, France is a leading agricultural powerhouse, and its share of the value of EU agricultural production is 18.1%. France comes to number 1 position in the production of poultry, beef, cereal, oilseed, sugar beet and potato, and in 2012 this sector also accounted for more than 5.6% of the total French jobs. There are large farms of wheat in North France, whereas in West France one can see a large production of pork, poultry, and dairy, along with Apple farms.
There are many reasons why France is becoming the leader in agriculture produce, including increased adoption of modern technology, increased subsidies by EU and more fertile land. These are the factors that come together to set a base for AgTech or AgriTech to flourish in France.
AgriTech in France
The French government has been focussing on introducing and sustaining technology in the agricultural sector here by using advanced machinery and scientific efficient methods, as a part of the post World War II era. All these efforts have made France as one of the world leaders for AgTech supported by innovative high technology and increased adoptions. There is a great load of innovation in AgriTech in France, in the field of sensors, robotics and data analysis, that help farmers to grow crops with increased ease and lower costs.
Urban agriculture has also given rise to new production methods such as hydroponics (fish farming + non-soil market gardening). This has resulted in the development of outdoor production sites in public spaces, or indoor production sites with shutters.
With the help of sensors, drones, or satellite images one can now collect data about soils, weather, productivity, and hygrometry, and then further analyze it. This helps farmers take intelligent decisions about their fields and increase productivity.
Interestingly, AgriTech in France can be viewed on three levels:
Collection of Data Level
All the connected data devices, with IoT and smart sensors, along with tools like weather and satellite imaging come in this sector.
Analysis of Data and Recommendations
Once the data is collected, there are tools to interpret and analyze the data, to recommend an operational action plan.
The third level is where devices are programmed to automatically behave a specific function or action, such as irrigation, treatment or harvesting. This sector is still new in AgriTech in France and needs more development.
Startups in AgriTech in France
The startups in AgriTech in France are spread over various fields. Drones, robotics, microchips and connected devices disrupt the functioning of today’s agriculture. French startups are actively contributing to the development of these digital innovations in agriculture. Some of the exciting sectors and startups are:
Internet of Things (IoT)
Connected devices enabled by IoT are increasingly creating better information for farm owners and workers, to enable them to take better and informed decisions. The startups in IoT here are Exotic Systems, SenCrop, NexxTep Technologies, Weenat and VisioGreen amongst others. Most of these companies are enabling machines to more intelligently help on the farms.
Marketplaces in AgriTech in France are specialized in the sale of fertilizers or agricultural equipment, and the offer of marketplaces and e-commerce sites specializing in agriculture is plentiful with more than 25 companies in this space like Agriconomie, YourMachine.com, EFarm.com, AgriAgree.com and Easy Stock Tyre.
Several companies are working in the sector of agricultural robots like the young startup Agritech Toulouse, which innovates with its agricultural weeding robot intended for gardening.
Though Drones for agricultural use, have been around since 2015, there are mainly two players that are ruling the sector. Airinov holds 93% of the share of the drones in this industry, while Parrot holds the remaining. Interestingly Parrot owns more than 50% stake in Airinov.
Crowdfunding in and for agriculture is a new concept and is quickly picking up in AgriTech in France. The two main platforms here are Miimosa and WineFunding, for farms as well as wineyards.
Platforms like Samsys.fr, VinoSoft, GreenData and Ekylibre are leading the space of data analysis in agriculture, creating a new niche in AgriTech in France.
Although there are still a few companies in this sector, it is emerging as an exciting sector in AgriTech in France. Ynsect is ruling the biotechnology space; it extracts proteins out of beetles and flies which can then be used either for animal nutrition production or even for human usage. It was recently in the news for having raised a €5.5 million round.
Way forward for AgriTech in France
Though a lot is going on in the AgriTech sector in France, the advances and innovations need to be supported and sustained. Given its weight and its agricultural history, France should thrive to be tomorrow’s leader in Agritech. But to reach this stage, an increased government intervention and influx of funds is required. Creation of funds and incubators that support and promote research in this field as well as on ground adoption of these AgriTech innovations, as a next step will ensure that France becomes the world leader in AgTech.
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