The agricultural sector in Vietnam faces numerous challenges, including natural disasters, water pollution, and extreme weather conditions. These challenges have caused a decline in the food supply, making it difficult to cater to the increasing food demand. Also, since a large percentage of farm produce in the country is unfit for consumption, numerous food-borne diseases have emerged as well.
Agritech startups in Vietnam respond to these challenges by developing environmentally friendly, affordable, and easy-to-integrate solutions. They are also constantly working to bridge the equality gap regarding access to safe food, water, and dietary needs. This sets Vietnamese agritech startups apart from other agritech startups in Southeast Asia.
We looked at some of the agritech startups in Southeast Asia making waves in 2019
Statistics show that the Vietnamese agricultural sector accounted for 14.85% of the country’s GDP in 2020. The sector also provides 39.45% of the total employment in the country. With the growing agritech trends, the creation of more innovative tools by agritech startups to sustain food security in Vietnam is not far-fetched.
Demeter was founded in 2017 by Pham Ngoc Anh Tung after executing a $4.4 million USD agric project in Ho Chi Minh City. The company initially developed an IoT-driven system at Cau Dat Farms, with support from several international farms. The system enables farmers to automate their operations, helping them to reduce human involvement, increase productivity and product quality, and effectively manage their farm sites.
Demeter’s IoT system consists of three major parts. The first part, known as the Connected Edge, is responsible for controlling irrigation systems, pumps, drones, micro-climate systems, camera systems, weather-station systems, and sensor systems. The second part handles storage and analyses data into information on the cloud, while the third part identifies tasks using the information. Demeter is looking to expand its services to Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Since its inception in 2014, MimosaTEK has been focused on using precision agriculture to improve existing farming practices in Vietnam, most of which are experience-based and manual. The company owns a cloud-based system that allows farmers to automate and manage their farms using sensors that monitor the environment by sending signals through radio frequency waves and notifies them about hazardous environmental factors.
The system also allows farmers to monitor crop progress, create a crop database, and remotely irrigate their farms through mobile devices. With this system, farmers can plan and manage their farms using data from the environment and crop database. For its innovative ideas, MimosaTEK is one of ten companies worldwide to receive the Securing Water for Food award from USAID in 2017.
Established in 2016, Hachi develops IoT-driven hydroponic farming systems for household and urban agriculture. Hachi was birthed from a youth startup project in Vietnam National University of Agriculture and Hanoi University of Science and Technology with a seed capital of 100 million Dong. The company’s system includes automatic watering, automated fan and mist settings powered by an environment sensor, and an automated mesh structure that protects crops from the sun.
Compared to traditional vegetable farming, Hachi’s system requires less land and light. It also demands less attention and care as farmers only need a smartphone to grow clean vegetables at home. Hachi is looking to adopt the drip irrigation system because it helps farmers save costs by reducing the amount of water and fertiliser needed to grow their plants.
Sero.ai is an AI-driven agritech startup that helps farmers tackle the challenges of erratic crop production by creating a platform that connects farmers and experts. Farmers are encouraged to take photos of their sick plants and upload them to the platform. Computer vision technology helps users identify the disease and recommend solutions.
Sero.ai, which was launched in 2016, claims to be a crop intelligence company that collects real-time data during plants’ growth stages with images and sensors to provide preventative recommendations to farmers. The startup has generated lots of interest among investors and potential customers that have an eye for agritech trends.
Naturally Vietnam is a Hanoi-based agritech startup founded by a husband and wife team, Mai and Patrice Gautier. The duo started the company as a bid to bring more transparency to the food market. Naturally Vietnam provides an online grocery store where people can purchase traceable food products sourced from six farms in the Soc Son district of Hanoi.
The company offered seed capital of over $2,000 USD to help individuals build farms from scratch to achieve this. The livestock farms are veterinarian-supervised, use organic processes and produce food with traceable origins. Naturally Vietnam also plans to start a program with the Hanoi Weekend Night Market, where foods from local producers can be tasted by consumers, thereby building a stronger bond between both parties.
With the booming agricultural sector in Vietnam, it is possible to anticipate new agritech trends in the future. Needless to say, existing agritech startups in Vietnam are paving the way by using their current innovations to transform farming practices. Beyond Vietnam, many of these agritech startups are looking to expand to other countries to stay ahead of their Southeast Asian competitors. Indeed, the road ahead for these Vietnamese agritech startups is one that is promising.