7 startups selected to reshape the Agri-food sector

ICONE, a project by GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) promoting the competitiveness of Cambodian businesses, and Eatable Adventures, a Foodtech accelerator, collaborate to drive innovation in the agri-food sector in northwest Cambodia.

Their joint effort aims to integrate sustainability and develop solutions to enhance local agri-food productivity, thereby supporting the country's economic progress.

Through a comprehensive analysis of the sector, they identified opportunities to boost local businesses and contribute to Cambodia's economic growth among three key growth areas. GIZ ICONE and Eatable have launched an international call to the Foodtech startup ecosystem to pioneer innovative solutions among three Open challenges: transforming tropical fruit production, boosting agri-food global business relations, and expanding Cambodia’s portfolio of premium products.

After the call, seven startups have been selected worldwide, from Europe to Asia, to enhance local businesses and propel Cambodia's economic growth:

It’s Fresh: a British company specialising in ethylene control solutions. Their technology not only extends the shelf life of products during transit, storage, and retail but also preserves their texture and flavour, ensuring optimal freshness from farm to table.

BNS (Bio Natural Solutions): a Peruvian enterprise dedicated to harnessing agricultural waste to create natural solutions that not only enhance the longevity, disinfect, and protect fruits and vegetables but also contribute to sustainable agricultural practices and environmental conservation efforts.

Bio2Coat: this Spanish startup is pioneering an innovative solution to tackle food waste and the imperative of reducing plastics. Through its 100% natural coatings, it extends the shelf life of foods like fruits and vegetables, enabling them to stay fresh for longer periods.

GreenPod Labs: this Indian company provides cost-effective post-harvest solutions to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables during storage and transportation. It is developing active packaging pouches that trigger built-in defence mechanisms in fruits and vegetables to preserve their quality.

Tenbox: a Cambodian company offering a wholesale e-commerce platform designed to simplify product sourcing for owners of retail stores, especially in the food and beverage sector or convenience stores. Its aim is to support small businesses and brands by providing a wide range of products in one place and offering other services such as inventory control or traceability verification.

Unibaio: this Argentine company has developed microparticles crafted from natural polymers to enhance agricultural inputs. These microparticles efficiently capture the active ingredients of phytosanitary products and fertilizers, ensuring deeper plant penetration. This innovation significantly boosts effectiveness while reducing application doses by up to 80%.

Qartbotech: this Malaysian company employs nanotechnology to enhance plant photosynthesis and strengthen crops, resulting in increased yields and improved quality. This innovative solution represents a significant advancement in agricultural technology, addressing the growing need for sustainable methods to boost crop productivity.

This week, these startups were able to present their innovative solutions in a showcase taking place at Battambang. The event offered a unique opportunity to unite entrepreneurs and local Cambodian corporations, facilitating the introduction of innovations into the local market. Throughout the event, startups presented their projects, demonstrated the solutions, and forged connections with local corporations.

Why driving innovative solutions in the country?

According to the report jointly developed by GIZ ICONE and Eatable Adventures titled 'Food Innovation and Agro-Processing Sector in North-Western Cambodia, agriculture stands as one of the foremost economic pillars of the country, contributing around 22% to its gross domestic product (GDP) and encompassing 30% of the nation's total employment. Agricultural production dominates the primary sector, making up 60% of the sector's GDP contribution, followed by fishing and livestock farming.

However, only 10% to 13% of agricultural production undergoes processing, leading to most exported products being in raw form. Additionally, a significant portion of these products undergo value-added products in Thailand and Vietnam before being exported back to Cambodia. Therefore, there is a pressing need for the country to focus on developing its processing and value-added capabilities in the agricultural sector to enhance its economic growth and global competitiveness.

Throughout the in-depth analysis conducted by GIZ ICONE and Eatable Adventures, three key growth areas were identified to drive innovative technological solutions aimed at enhancing production processes in the agri-food sector and contribute to its growth and competitiveness.