By Maureen Mazurek
Food is so important to women, to almost an emotional level, because we are most often the ones responsible for feeding our families. I have a teenage athlete at home, so I’m constantly restocking the fridge and pantry to keep her fed and fit. On International Women’s Day, I reflect on food, an important part of my life’s work.
Around the world, women are the primary producers, purchasers and preparers of food, and we account for 85 percent of consumer spending, according to a recent report from the Global Harvest Initiative. Women are critical to the future of agriculture.
So not surprisingly, women also are taking a more active role in the agriculture industry. Here at NewLeaf, half of our team are women, including half of those who are researching and developing our technology. Some of us come from a farm background, but the majority of us found agtech because we are passionate about solving problems. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to agriculture because I am concerned about the sustainability of our food system.
Together, our industry is putting science into practice to make food the way people want to feed their families. In order to feed a growing population (estimated to be 9 billion by 2050), we need to help farmers grow high-yield crops, and give consumers access to high-quality food. The tools we have available now will not be enough to fulfill these growing needs, so it’s critical that the agtech industry continue to pursue new solutions that can transform the food supply chain.
At NewLeaf, we think large-scale transformation will require access to safer, more natural tools. That is why we are focusing on pink pigmented facultative methylotrophs (M-trophs), micro-organisms that improve plant nutrition and reduce stress from pests and diseases. Our field trials show that this technology can generate better yield, improve efficacy of current crop inputs, reduce farm-level environmental footprint, and meet consumers’ demand for clean food. This is the convergence of food and agriculture, and as we help farmers be more successful growers, we’re also enabling them to meet the needs of today’s consumers.
I’m excited to continue the food-ag convergence conversation at the World AgriTech Innovation Summit later this month. All of us have a stake in the future of agriculture, and it’s truly inspiring to see how innovators in the agtech community are finding solutions that could transform the way we farm and eat for the better.