At Kök Projekt, we are passionate and curious about the food, agriculture, and water sectors. Our curiosity fuels our search for new startups, ideas, insights, and foresight in these sectors. In our work, one of the primary focus areas is to create databases to understand which players participate in the ecosystems. Thus, with these databases, we create our content as blog posts, reports, and ecosystem maps.
One of the maps we were excited about was Türkiye’s Agriculture Ecosystem map. We start working on this months in advance every year and get quite thrilled when we publish it. This is the time of the year for us, and we are proud to present the third version of the Türkiye Agriculture Ecosystem Map.
When we created our first Türkiye’s Agriculture Ecosystem Map 2020, we aimed to shed light on the country’s agriculture ecosystem and make startups more visible. As Einstein once said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”(1).
We’ve followed these wise words in the past three years and did not stop questioning. Our curiosity about what is happening in the agriculture ecosystem encouraged us to create the Türkiye Agriculture Ecosystem Map Version 2021 and now, version 2022. Every year we seek to prepare a bigger map, and excitingly, Türkiye’s agriculture ecosystem is growing.
Türkiye; Agriculture &Challenges & Digital Solutions
Türkiye is the largest country in Europe in terms of agricultural economy (2019) (2). With Its rich biodiversity, climate, geographical conditions, and sufficient agricultural land, our country is the world leader in producing various crops. Türkiye is the top producer of hazelnuts, apricots, figs, cherries, and quinces. In 2020, the agriculture sector contributed 6.6 percent of the nation’s GDP and employed about 18 percent of the working population. So, the agriculture sector is critical in terms of the economy. However, around the world, the agricultural industry in Türkiye also faces many difficulties, such as climate change, unsustainable agriculture practices, water and soil pollution, irrigation problems, etc. These problems have many solutions, and one of them is smart agriculture. The fast development and deployment of digital technologies and networks today offer to speed up the transformation of the food system and give the promise to overcome the long-lasting problems of the sector. Startups are the central pillar of this digital transformation. Entrepreneurship, combined with the expertise of corporates, may further help to create a sustainable future for agriculture. Therefore, we believe startups and corporate companies are vital players in a sustainable agriculture ecosystem. Thus, this map is an overview of the Türkiye agriculture ecosystem, outlining startups, investors, and corporate companies.
Building The Map
As Kök Projekt, we are an agri-food management consulting company that works with corporates, governmental organizations, and investment funds in the food, agriculture, water, and energy sectors. We work for empowering startups and conduct our activities predominantly in Türkiye and the MENA Region. Türkiye has a young, well-educated, and tech-savvy population. (The average age in Türkiye is 32.2 years, while this figure is 44.1 in Europe)(3,4). Over the last three years, the sector has seen enormous challenges, the coronavirus pandemic, and economic problems… but it kept growing in 2021. Startups focusing on agriculture technologies received 12.7 Mio USD in investment (5). Now, investment volumes are decreasing in a world that is going into recession. Still, more VCs and corporate venture capital firms are showing up, and we believe that in the next five years, Türkiye will attract more investments.
As we began creating our map, we started from our startup databases for Türkiye. In our next step, we worked closely with Patent Effect. This team supports technology-driven companies and research institutes to unleash the power of patents to create 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 2020 and 34 in 2021. In 2022 the number of patentpreneurs reached 37.
When we think about the digital agriculture sector, we imagine a big tree with more branches each year, which needs new categorizations. Thus this year, we have a new category called regenerative agriculture and 13 total categories. When we looked at the categories, we saw many startups focusing on e-commerce and advanced materials/biotechnology. This is not surprising in an era of climate change and fast delivery. In addition, more VCs are showing up, which makes us excited for startups. The chart below shows the share of each category in the total smart agriculture startup ecosystem.
While agri-food sectors are responsible for around 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions, they are also highly vulnerable to climate change. Therefore, agriculture must be part of the climate solution. Sustainable agriculture can reverse biodiversity loss, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance adaptation and mitigate. We believe each section will grow in the future as we need more smart solutions for mitigation and adaptation.
Corporates: Key Players of the Sector
As Kök Projekt, we are an innovation partner for the food, agriculture, water, and energy sector companies. We follow and work with them closely. Türkiye 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 Türkiye.
Private companies have also become active startup ecosystem supporters. They organize and sponsor events and support incubator and accelerator programs. We have categorized corporate firms into eight sections. Companies engaged in agricultural activities, IT/ICT, and big finance companies providing global agriculture solutions.
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 thirteen startup categories, the focus is on e-commerce, which is not surprising. With over 80 million people and extensive internet access (78% of Türkiye’s population uses the internet), e-commerce is booming in Türkiye (6).
Advanced Materials/Biotechnology: Startups focus on improving crop yield and 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, the 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 allow farmers to efficiently manage their resources and keep track of their farms, especially in one specialized area.
Agriculture Information and Technology: Mobile AgriTech platforms offer 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 more ag-tech financing organizations emerging, 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, tractors, and other mechanizations.
Regenerative Agriculture: Our new category. Regenerative agriculture focuses on startups that promote conservation and rehabilitation approaches to farming systems.
This is not an exhaustive list of all startups and corporate companies in the Türkiye agriculture sector.
You can reach our 2022 Turkish Agriculture Startup & Corporate Ecosystem Map here.