The fresh produce industry is being asked to feed a growing population with fewer resources.
Increasingly, growers are turning to technology to address unprecedented environmental pressures, regulatory restrictions and marketplace demands. To help meet this need, Western Growers Center of Innovation and Technology has emerged as a catalyst for innovation in the fresh produce industry.
Western Growers is committed to advancing agricultural technology in the fresh produce industry with a team that is just as fluent in the ways of the Central Valley as Silicon Valley. The Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology links agtech innovators with growers and shippers, providing our technology partners with the valuable real-world experience that other incubators lack.
Teamed with Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, in 2021, Western Growers launched a statewide initiative aimed at transitioning the agriculture workforce to master rapidly developing agricultural technology that prioritizes growers’ biggest needs. Rooted in innovation, AgTechX is dedicated to cultivating a future workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate emerging on-farm technology.
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With a grant awarded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in 2022, Western Growers has launched the Next Gen Ag Workers program, which unites California community colleges, growers and government to guide the next generation of agricultural workers in STEM-focused agricultural careers that are focused on the priority skills gaps set by Western Growers members.
Based on environmental and regulatory requirements and pressure for increased regulation, WG expects to see a portfolio for crop protection that consistently requires less chemical applications and increasingly uses biological solutions. WGCIT supports and collaborates with global partners on efforts to find the path that will make biologicals a plausible and efficient solution that can scale
There is a need for AgTech innovation to drive efficiency and productivity with an emphasis on solving grower’s problems with solutions that deliver the right economics. This need is a key driver of the motivations behind the resources and support we provide to growers, startups and investors at the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT). The WGCIT creates the space and opportunities for AgTech and automation to address issues, such as water, labor shortages, data processing and soil health.
Through its Center for Innovation and Technology, Western Growers is once again leading the way in our industry – this time with the Global Harvest Automation Initiative – arguably the moonshot of AgTech; and in addition the Grower Trial Network where farmers likes us get a chance to review technologies and solutions right in the same room as the innovators, and provide our feedback on what we really need to stay competitive.
Turlock Fruit Company