Bloomberg anchors Alix Steel and Guy Johnson interviewed AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb this week about the company’s focus on building more resilient food systems.
“Coming out of COVID, we need to be building more resiliency into our systems — food, health and energy,” Webb told Steel. “We can see through COVID how weak and vulnerable some of these systems are. If you think there are cracks in health care, I encourage your viewers to look at agriculture.”
The United Nations recently released a report on the coronavirus’ impact on food security and supply chains, noting border restrictions and lockdowns are “constraining transport of food to markets.” That has created severe issues as the United States increasingly relies on imported fruits and vegetables. Over the past decade, America has increased annual tomato imports by more than a billion pounds with more than 60% of all tomatoes now being imported.
Johnson, a top financial journalist for around two decades, asked Webb about AppHarvest’s cutting-edge technology, which includes a circular irrigation system that reduces water usage by 90%. The system uses only recycled rainwater that is gathered in a 10-acre on-site retention pond. AppHarvest’s facility also includes one of the world’s largest arrays of LEDs, which are 40% more efficient than typical controlled environment agriculture lighting.
AppHarvest’s sustainable approach is a must for global agriculture. Unless agriculture changes, scientists predict we will soon need two planet Earths to have the land and water required to meet growing population demands. The UN predicts we will need between 50% and 70% more food by 2050.
“When we talk about resiliency, it’s building systems that can withstand climate disruption and continue to feed our population through upcoming uncertainties on the horizon,” Webb said.