Hồ Chí Minh City is the most populated city in Vietnam, more than 8 million inhabitants. Formerly called Saïgon, this city is the economic and industrial heart of Vietnam ahead of Hanoï, which is the political capital. The high development of Hồ Chí Minh City led to important environmental issues. As a striking example, in this city there is an average on 1 motorbike per inhabitant!
From 20 years, the high demographic growth of this city would mainly due to the rural exodus of countryside. 30% of the inhabitants would be rural migrants, hence, significant food challenges appear. One of them is the relocation of food production sites towards consumption locations in order to reduce environmental impact. Another challenge bears on the volume of food production and the high crops yield to response to the fast population growth. This issue question the Vietnamese agricultural model and the relevance of the intensive system. Indeed, other innovative systems are developed such as hydroponie or aquaponie to optimize yield in small surfaces, adapted to urban areas.
Tan Do, the founder and CEO of a start up company called AgrHub, offers this type of solution. This new company is hosted in a co-working space, famous for working on environmental and social issues: Officience.
AgrHub (https://agrhub.com/) was created in 2015, with the first idea of combining the traditional agricultural practices, new technologies and strong desire for bringing a good life for farmers. From the beginning, the company grew and the team is now composed by the founder and 4 other people.
ArgHub purpose’s is to answer to new agricultural challenges with cutting-edge technologies: producing more with less environmental impacts by integrating all supply chain actors. On one hand, AgrHub provides smart, innovative and low impacts solutions to optimize agricultural production thanks to new technologies. On the other hand, the start up company offers consulting services for farmers on the quality, the product performance, and the compliance with standards to lower the costs. This new model aims to re-shape the agriculture by building a sustainable agriculture ecosystem with a top precision thanks to technology.
Related to urban challenges, AgrHub has developed a container of crops growing thanks to a hydroponic system in Ho Chi Minh city.
AgrHub wants to digitize the agriculture sector and help farmers becoming hi-tech farmers. They designed a mobile app integrating all parameters and variables to be able to manage many different types of farms: greenhouse, hydroponic, aquaponic, vertical indoor farm… And this digital system can adapt as well for small farms or big agri-food companies. This app allows to optimize yield and chemical products use.
Today, the mobile app is functional and implemented in several farms, but AgrHub keeps experimenting and innovating. More and more farmers want to experiment this new way of working. Some are rurales but the most innovative projects are urban.
One of the most performant project they support is a vertical farm in a container. This FarmBox (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTbwHD84IVk) allows to have fresh produce 365 days a year, improving access and transparency on what people eat. The automatic operation system (composed by nutrient controller, air & temperature sensors, smart plugs…) makes easier for farmers the scalability to meet market demand.
WHAT NOW ?
As a startup company, AgrHub needs to find founding to keep optimizing and spreading his solutions. Today, some foreign investors are closely following AgrHub.
They have also some opportunities to commercialize their system in other countries like England, Brazil or in Africa.
One of the most important challenge they have to take up is education. In order to build a whole network and a large community, they have to raise awareness about environment issues such as GreenHouse Gases, local food, compost and on new technologies challenges.
AgrHub services belong to an optimized agricultural system using technologies to higher yield crops, lower costs and decrease impacts on the environment. AgrHub product lead to fully integrate the food supply chain. This private business seems to respond efficiently to the urban food challenge with foodtech solutions by developing numerical tools, innovating on agricultural model and connecting all food-chain actors.
In response to the intensive agriculture consequences, there is a tendency to promote old agricultural model, without involving new technologies. However, technology can be a lever to optimize crops treatments and thus, to decrease pesticides use. Moreover, one of a vital challenge is the demographic growth and therefore, increasing farm yields. Maybe one alternative to the intensive agricultural system is a patchwork of several integrated agricultural systems!