Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) today announced that it is entering into a business alliance with Vegetalia, Inc., a start-up venture which specializes in the provision of information and communication technology (ICT)-related services for the agricultural sector. MC is also providing Vegetalia with a third-party investment in the amount of 500 million yen.
In line with overall demographic trends, Japan’s farming population is aging and decreasing rapidly, and the next few years, it is projected, could see the largest drop ever in the number of agricultural producers. In order to remain competitive in agriculture, including catching up with trends in upscaling and supplementing the insufficiency of successors, Japan will need to increase productivity and efficiency on the fields, ensuring that industry know-how is adequately passed on to future generations, while at the same time honing the skills of up and coming farmers. Through its investment in Vegetalia, a solution-driven ICT company utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) in farming, MC aims to tackle challenges in agriculture, integrating agricultural ICT with its network and knowledge in agribusiness.
Vegetalia is a next-generation food and agriculture venture that utilizes the latest plant science and ICT to provide solutions for the agricultural sector. Solutions offered by Vegetalia include: “Field Server,” an IoT tool that allows farmers to monitor their farm lands using sensors; “Paddy Watch,” a water management system for rice fields; and “agri-note,” a cloud-based system that supports farm management and reporting through the use of maps and aerial photos. Vegetalia has also opened the “Vegetalia Plant Clinic®”1, a service that integrates expertise of plant science specialists, the first private sector initiative of its kind in Japan. Overall, Vegetalia is a pioneer in the use of ICT in Japan and has established itself as a leader in creating innovation in the agricultural sector. Going forward, Vegetalia intends to work with agricultural producers and agribusiness enterprises2 to put the data accumulated through these solutions to use, leveraging Big Data to build a mutually beneficial agricultural ICT platform.
MC holds a diversified business portfolio in the agricultural sector, spanning from inputs such as fertilizers and agricultural chemicals, to equipment and agricultural produce. The new alliance is a function of this background, whereby MC leverages its wide customer base and industry knowledge developed over the years to help expand the reach of Vegetalia’s ICT solutions. By facilitating the generation of Big Data and promoting new alliances with agribusiness enterprises, MC will accelerate the formation of the ICT platform. Joining forces with Vegetalia, MC will utilize AI/IoT to comprehensively extract and visualize information such as soil, farm activity, and plant growth, facilitating the transformation of the agricultural sector into an information industry.
Through optimizing agricultural practices, improving profitability for agricultural producers, and enhancing capabilities to procure and provide agricultural produce in accordance with consumer needs, MC aims to further strengthen its agribusiness operations, and contribute to the larger realization of sustainable growth in agriculture.
*1 Vegetalia Plant Clinic® is a registered trademark of the University of Tokyo
*2 Agri-business enterprises include manufacturers of agricultural materials and farming equipment, agricultural products retailers and food manufacturers.