Global investment company Temasek is being called the “best and most aggressive” agritech investor, with holdings ranging from an Israeli irrigation firm to an Indonesian fish food start-up.
A recent report says that the state-owned investor, worth over S$400 billion, “is helping avert a food crisis.”
Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, July 26, that as the world’s food supply is threatened by climate change and disruptions such as Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Singapore’s Temasek “has doubled down on an agriculture strategy involving ambitious investments — including efforts that take control of some businesses — to try and reap profits from solving some of the biggest problems in food production.”
One of the new investments Temasek has made under its CEO Dilhan Pillay, who last year took over the reins from the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Madam Ho Ching, is eFishery, which is based in Bandung. The company aims to revolutionize aquaculture.
Temasek’s life science and agriculture holdings have grown from US$5.7 billion (SGD 7 billion) in 2015 to US$26.7 billion (SGD 37 billion) earlier this year.
It has invested in such diverse companies such as Bayer AG and Impossible Foods Inc, a plant-based meat maker.
“When we started looking at this, most of our peers were not focused on this industry because it tends to have government influence, it’s volatile and it involves land, which can be capital intensive,” Temasek’s head of agri-food Anuj Maheshwari told Bloomberg.
“But if we don’t create a system that is more efficient and resilient to climate change the food security of the planet is at risk,” he added.
Tiny Singapore remains threatened when disruptions such as the war in Ukraine occur, and therefore must look to creating “complex and redundant supply chains” for food security.
One recent example of this is when Malaysia banned the export of chicken last month, and Singapore then received supplies from Brazil, Thailand, and Australia.
“Who knew the Ukraine war would happen and we would not have any chicken?
The reality is it’s not just a long-term thing but also a short-term thing,” Mr Maheshwari told Bloomberg.
But since Temasek started agritech investments seven years ago, it has become the industry’s fifth-most-active venture capital fund manager.
In the Bloomberg piece, eFishery co-founder and CEO Gibran Huzaifah called Temasek “the best and most aggressive agri-tech investor in the world right now.”
It noted that Temasek CEO Pillay has a personal call with Mr Gibran every quarter, calling it “an extraordinarily high level of support for such a small venture.”
But Mr Maheshwari said that the state investment firm is not attempting to control the food supply, or even directly strengthen food security in Singapore.
“It just happens to be that we have taken stakes in positions which are pretty important for the food system,” the article quotes him as saying.
What is important now is addressing climate change, he added.
“We need more and more solutions thrown at the problem,” We’re just seeing the trailer of what can happen,” Mr Maheshwari said. /TISG
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