23. May 2019
Interview with Dan Harburg, Indigo
Innovator who changes the world
By Sarah Liebigt
Sustainability. Quality. Health. Profitability: Only a few of the key words you can basically find in every teaser referring to agricultural research, events or articles. They may seem overused when talking about tomorrow’s food production system. They are, however, almost redundant when we look at today’s agricultural stakeholders: farmers, innovators, start-ups, investors. Farm & Food spoke to one of those stakeholders at the F&A Next 2019, which took place in May in the Silicon Valley of agriculture and agtech-research: Wageningen University. Dan Harburg, Senior Director Innovation at indigo, was part of a debate regarding the question “How to create value for farmers?”. Indigo is partner of Farm & Food 2020.
Just at the time the F&A Next took place, CNBC published the 2019 Disruptor 50 list. In said list, »CNBC features private companies — from biotech and machine learning to transportation, retail and agriculture — whose innovations are changing the world and fueling a race between superpowers like the U.S. and China« (cnbc.com) Indigo AG was ranked first place.
So when asked how the current buzz feels, Harburg laughs: »It feels great, it has been an exciting past few years for the company as we continue to imagine new opportunities across the food and ag value chain.«
Farm & Food: Indigo is offering analytics, the crops and transport: Are they interested in other areas along the chain from field to plate?
Dan Harburg: Yes, anything that improves grower profitability, environmental sustainability or consumer health is fair game for us. We are very interested in any service or offering that might touch the grower or the consumer within these areas.« They do supply data for the block chain, but have to rely on others to complete the journey from field to store shelf to plate.
How does indigo supply information for the consumer, how do they guarantee, that the block chain continues after you deliver your crops to the buyer?
For us, it starts by quantifying many metrics on the farm and then preserving the identity of harvested products from field to the consumer. We do this by leveraging our on-farm agronomy tools, our digital marketplace, and our transport organization to track and trace the product all the way to the buyer, whether they are a grain mill, beer brewer, or clothing company.
The challenges in agriculture are divers, to say the least. Which challenge will or should we master next?
There are so many challenges that need to be overcome in farming today. One that is top of mind for us is to figure out how to get growers paid for transitioning to sustainable farming practices. This is a challenge that will be really critical as we think about feeding the world sustainably. We must support growers to implement growing practices that emit less carbon, use less fertilizer and have less chemical residues on the end product. I hope that Indigo, along with many other companies, can work to solve this challenge now.