Mapping the Turkish Agri-Food Ecosystem 2021

Part I-Turkey Agriculture Ecosystem

Kök Projekt presents: Turkey Agriculture Ecosystem Map 2021

At Kök Projekt, we are curious and passionate about the food, agriculture, and water sectors. We believe in building synergies between ecosystem players. Thus we create databases to understand which stakeholders exist in the food agriculture and water ecosystems. Our forever mood is “wandering and learning.” 

When we created the Turkish Agriculture Ecosystem Map 2020 last year, our ambition was to shed light on Turkey’s agriculture ecosystem  and make startups more visible. We used a data-driven methodology which allowed us to identify and categorize startups. We believe that keeping up with the sector’s stakeholders is vital to understand its dynamics, which is why we created the Turkish Agriculture Ecosystem Map Version 2021.

Agriculture in Turkey: Strengths, Weakness, and Digitalisation

Turkey is in the top ten countries in the world in terms of agricultural land and production. Our country has many strengths in the agriculture sector, such as biodiversity, rich climate, geographical conditions, sufficient agricultural land, and a sufficient workforce. Moreover, Turkey is the world’s largest hazelnuts, cherries, figs, apricots, quinces, and pomegranate manufacturer(1). However, as in the world, the agricultural sector in Turkey also faces many difficulties such as climate change, unsustainable agriculture practices, water and soil pollution, irrigation problems and so on… These problems have many solutions and one of them is digital agriculture. Even if digitalization is not a silver bullet, we believe that startups can solve some of the biggest problems affecting our agricultural system. Combined with the expertise of corporates, entrepreneurship may further help to create a sustainable future for agriculture. Therefore, we believe that startups and corporate companies are vital players for a sustainable ecosystem. Thus, this map acts as an overview of the Turkish agriculture ecosystem outlining startups and corporate companies.

Building The Map

Startups: Vibrant and Promising Ecosystem

As Kök Projekt, we are an agri-food startup accelerator based in Istanbul. We work for empowering food agriculture and water startups. Turkey has quite a young and tech-savvy population. For the last five years, we’ve experienced many exciting developments in the market for agri-food entrepreneurship, and thus we closely follow the Turkish agriculture startups. We believe in the Turkish agriculture startup ecosystem and trust that we will see more startups that become meaningful or sizable businesses each year.The investment news keeps us hopeful for the future.

Last year, Coronavirus altered many aspects of our lives. It has also accelerated an ongoing trend that has already resulted in “investments in the food and agriculture sector.” We saw fantastic investment news in 2020, and they continued in 2021. Tarfin, an agri-finance startup, received a 5 million USD investment(2). Focusing on agricultural technologies, Agrovisio received investment with a valuation of 10 million TL(3) and Patika Robotics, autonomous robots company, also received investment with a valuation of 10 million TL(4). These are some of the excellent investment news in the sector.

As we began to create our map, we commenced from our startup databases for Turkey.  On our next step, we worked closely with Patent Effect, the team that supports technology-driven companies and research institutes to unleash the power of patents for creating an impact on their innovation journey, to define the Patentpreneurs: Startups who have at least one patent/utility model application. This year, there has been a significant increase in the number of patentpreneurs. It was 14 in the 2020 Turkey Agriculture Map. In 2021 the number of patentpreneurs reached 28.

The digital agriculture sector is growing each year and once all-encompassing term “Smart Agriculture” has become unmanageably wide. Thus, this year we have changed our taxonomy and created a more detailed one. Last year we had seven categories under the startup section. This year we dived deep and created twelve categories. Startup ecosystems are dynamic organizations that evolve rapidly, and it’s challenging to keep track of each player who’s part of them. Thus, to follow the ecosystem efficiently, we believe that categorizing the teams is essential.

As we categorized the teams, we looked for their primary purpose or value proposition, then organized them accordingly. Eventually, we’ve placed them into 12 categories and listed them on our map. We aimed to provide a clear understanding of each player. When we looked at the categories, we saw an increase in the number of startups focusing on indoor farming. As the world population is expected to reach more than 9 billion people, next-generation farms offering new production methods such as vertical, soilless, hydroponics, etc. are on the rise globally. Thus, it is not surprising to see the same trend in Turkey.  In addition, the number of marketplace/ e-commerce teams and startups focusing on agri-finance is also on the rise. 

We live in the climate change era, and it threatens agricultural production by bringing temperature rise, floods, and droughts. IPCC Report Climate Change 2021 The Physical Science Basis summary for policy makers mentions that “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe(5).” The frequency of sudden and severe weather events is expected to increase; thus, climate change means risk and uncertainty for agriculture.To diminish the risk and uncertainty we can use data and make decisions based on this information. Thus we believe that the sensors and drones/robots sections will also grow in the future as we need more data and information to make information-based decisions.

Corporates: Key Players of the Sector

As Kök Projekt, we are an innovation partner for the food, agriculture, and water sector companies. We follow and work with them closely. Turkey is in the top ten countries in the world in terms of agricultural land and production. Therefore it’s quite easy to find many international firms operating in the agriculture sector in Turkey. 

In recent years, private companies have also become active supporters of the startup ecosystem. Many corporate firms are diving into the startup ecosystem and getting involved with entrepreneurs, startup companies. They organize and sponsor events, and support incubator and accelerator programs to reap the benefits of innovation. Hence in our map, we have categorized corporate firms into eight sections as well. The list includes not only companies that are engaged in agricultural activities but also IT/ICT and big finance companies  who’re also providing global agriculture solutions that combine technology and data.

Below is an overview of each category

Agriculture Marketplace/E-Commerce: Startups working in e-commerce marketplaces for farmers. Including platforms enabling direct access from farmers to consumers. When we look at the map, among the twelve startup categories the focus is  on e-commerce, which is not surprising. According to Ministry of Trade data, in Turkey, E-commerce volume increased by 66% in 2020 compared to 2019 and reached 226 billion TL(6).

Advanced Materials/Biotechnology: Startups focusing on improving crop yield and crop protection and working with living systems and organisms. This section covers organic fertilizers, pesticides in hydrogels, bio-pesticides, natural preservatives for the post-harvest process, and many more.

Indoor Farming: Startups working with hydroponic systems, vertical farming solutions, soilless, and indoor farming systems. Generally, urban farms reduce the distance between production and consumption.

Precision Farming: Startups focusing on advanced technology, including big data, internet of things (IoT), tracking, monitoring, and automating agricultural activities. Specific crop management, farming management concept responding to inter variability in the field, and crops.

Farm Management Systems: Farm management systems that allow farmers to efficiently manage their resources and keep track of their farm.

Agriculture Information and Technology: Mobile agritech platforms offering many features such as weather services, agricultural notifications, remote agricultural expert consultancy etc.

Supply Chain Management: Startups focusing on improving supply chain management, including blockchain technology.

Sensors: Smart sensors that collect farm data and help farmers monitor crop and soil health and weather.

Livestock/Animal Technology: Startups working for sustainable livestock, assisting farmers with livestock management systems.

Investors: Vital stakeholders of the ecosystem. We believe this section will with the more ag-tech financing organizations emerging, and with it the number of innovative startups will increase.

Finance/Consultancy: Startups that help farmers to develop, iterate, and validate their vision, through the ways to access finance.

Drones/Robots/Mechanization:This category includes drone and autonomous robot companies as well as tractors and other mechanizations.

Quick Disclaimer

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of all startups and corporate companies in the Turkish Agriculture

You can reach our 2021 Turkish Agriculture Startup & Corporate Ecosystem Map here.

SOURCES

You can reach our 2021 Algerian Agri-Food Ecosystem Map here.