You know how, especially in recent years, people have been screaming about the bees disappearing. Well, obviously this cry gets lost in the politics, global pandemic, looming WW3 terrors, and others. However, the mysterious, although probably global warming related, disappearance of the world’s greatest pollinators is already causing massive fear in the agriculture sector, and beyond.
Farmers are being challenged with feeding an ever growing population while beehives dwindle in numbers. With around 75% of world crops reliant on insect pollination, this problem must be solved to meet rising food demand, in addition to keeping competitive prices.
Australia looks for almond pollination solution
There are more than a few Israeli startups innovating in bee care and maintenance, but this Israeli company is looking at solution to replace bees altogether. Agtech startup Edete Precision Technologies for Agriculture, or Edete for short, has developed an artificial pollinator system that looks to replace insect reliance, and provide food security, at least until we figure this whole honeybee thing out. Edete’s system combines a software-hardware solution that collects flowers, separates pollen from the anthers and other flower parts, resulting in pure pollen.
The company explains that by using its system, growers can optimize crop pollination for higher quality yield with machinery that can be deployed both day and night, and at extreme temperatures. The best genetically fit pollen is applied on the target trees using the company’s unique robotic pollination system, which uses a combination of technologies to disperse an optimal dosage of pollen on the target flowers for effective pollination.
The global almond market is estimated at over $7 billion annually. With growers spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on beehive services alone, costs are rising. Edete enters the game to provide farmers with a smarter solution than waiting for the bees to return, while also reducing accompanied costs to honeybee maintenance. According to Keren Mimran, co-founder and VP of Business Development, Edete’s pollinating powers aren’t limited to just almonds, but can also be used to pollinate pistachios, apples, cherries, pears, plums, among others.
The company’s technology has already been successfully tested in Israel with almond farmers, and now sets off to Australia, more specifically Victoria state, to begin commercial scale field trials of its artificial pollination technology. The trial will cover dozens of hectares of almond orchards, and is expected to launch in August when almond trees begin to blossom. “Australia is the second largest almond producer in the world and continues to increase acreage under cultivation in a way that makes the country a key proving ground for us,” said Mimran.
Furthermore, the company reports that it plans on implementing its technology in a California trial as well, potentially providing a pollination alternative to the state’s 7,400 almond growers.
Edete was founded in 2016 by CEO Eylam Ran, Keren Mimran, Chairman Ori Inbar, and Elad Etgar. The company has raised $6.2 million in pre-seed and Seed rounds, and plans to land their Series A this year to help support U.S. market penetration.