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Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

7 guidelines for effective agribusiness innovation

In Agribusiness, Innovation on July 31, 2009 at 10:12 pm

While there is no foolproof formula for successful innovation, there are a few guidelines that can help increase your likelihood of having a successful agribusiness venture.

  1. Start with a plan. Anything worth doing is worth planning and there is a process to planning for success. Start by doing your research to discover the gap in the market you may fill with a new or better product or service. Then arraign the necessary resources.
  2. Determine your idea’s feasibility. Arrange for an independent party to help determine the technical, operational and economic feasibility of your idea before you pursue it very far and waste time and money.
  3. Make it your business to know everything about your customer. Remember, everything you do is for your customers, and they are the sole reason your product or service exists. Ask them early and often for their advice and feedback. This will increase the likelihood that your product or service enjoys a long, profitable life.
  4. Instill marketing into everything you do. Marketing shouldn’t just be at the end of the value chain. It should include your approach to buying inputs, how you make the product, how it’s delivered and, of course, how it is priced, promoted and sold.
  5. Hire the right people. Most of us are pretty good at figuring out which building to build, which equipment to buy and how much to pay for inputs. But sadly, we don’t spend enough time and effort identifying, selecting and developing the people who make the products and carry out the services that we create. Soft skills can set you apart from your competitors.
  6. Know when to say, “when.” It has been said that not all entrepreneurs are managers and vice versa. It may be that you’re an inventor and innovator but not necessarily destined to manage the product or service deep into its life cycle. And that’s OK. Just sell it off to the highest bidder and get started on your next idea.
  7. Get to know investors. It takes money to bring products and services to market. Every inventor needs to get out of the lab once in awhile and press the flesh to cultivate relationships with people who might help their business succeed.
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GMO debate: part deux; COOL could expand to GMO labeling

In Agribusiness on July 21, 2009 at 10:06 pm

We have to be careful as we pursue our defense of GMO food products that we don’t completely disenfranchise the most important person in the whole arena: the consumer.

Lest we forget, it is the consumer who plunks down his or her money for the products we sell. Therefore, their opinions count.

We can talk until we’re blue in the proverbial face about “educating consumers” about where their food comes from and why GMO isn’t bad for them. But as I’m fond of saying, “educate  and consumer are two words that should never be used in the same sentence.”

It is the role of the consumer to educate us and it is our role to listen.

Now, I’m not saying we need to completely flip our position on GMO. I’m just saying we need to be prepared to come down on the side of the consumer, whichever side that turns out to be.

Most likely, we’ll continue to have a majority that don’t have a problem with GMO and a minority that want nothing to do with it.

It is, however, important for us to honor the consumer’s desire to know where his or her food comes from and how it’s produced. After all, it is the consumer who is the reason for what we do.

In any case, don’t be surprised if we see a requirement to label GMO foods in the not-too-distant future. It just seems like a natural progression from where we are. If you’re not aware of it, you should know about http://www.thecampaign.org/, a grassroots movement to get GMO foods labeled.

GMO debate kicks into high gear on Web

In Agribusiness on July 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm

This is what production agriculture is up against. What’s your opinion? It’s an e-mail that appeared in my inbox about five minutes ago. I post it for your review and comment:

Hi there!

What do you think?

By purchasing GMOs, so consumers create a future ripe with strong crops and health for all, or do we fall victim to food toxicity and corporate control?

Changemakers is proud to present our GMO Risk or Rescue Global Challenge to find projects/innovations/solutions that help consumers understand the impact of their food choices. Winners are decided by the community throughout the entry process by giving their fave idea a thumbs up.

The winner will win a one on one convo with Michael Pollan of The Omnivore’s Dilemma fame.

You can participate or share the news with your readership to participate. Share your two centswith us as well.

Thank you for helping spread the news.

Warm regards,

Tyler Ahn

Community Manager

Ashoka’s Changemakers
1700 N Moore Street, Suite 2000
Arlington, VA 22209 USA

T +1.703.600.8200 E tahn@ashoka.org

Innovation in agribusiness takes a village

In Agribusiness, Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Innovation on July 16, 2009 at 8:52 pm

I’m looking forward to stretching my legs in the coming months (after the fall harvest, especially) to get out to the countryside and meet with farmers, economic development staff and other agribusiness stakeholders to talk about ways to create wealth from the rural landscape.

You see, it takes cooperation on the part of all of us to bring forth the kinds of ideas required to innovate the next big thing. We still have so many opportunities to create wealth, and some of them lay in things that are seemingly worthless: wind, sun, soil, manure, cotton gin trash, cow ponch, whey, and more.

We’ll be in touch.

Anyone can invent or innovate

In Innovation on July 10, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I was talking with my friend Karen today, and she was all: “You know what the government should do instead of giving out cash to stimulate the economy? They should issue gift cards so people can pick their favorite stores. That way, it would encourage even more spending.”

I said: “That’s a brilliant idea, Karen. You should write a letter to President Obama.”

And just like that, an idea is born. It could be an idea that changes the way the government stimulates the economy.

It takes imagination to think: “Hey, what if we gave credits at stores and service providers rather than cash, thus eliminating the possibility that cash is sewn into the mattress instead of spent.”

Who knows? It might not be an idea that gains traction. But it is definitely the kind of idea that stimulates further thought, and sometimes that is just as valuable.