For the next few weeks, we plan on sharing some insights and reflections from our team members on key topics related to the world of agriculture and indoor farming.
This week, we asked our team, "How do we avoid greenwashing in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry?"
These are their reflections:
Tinia: Greenwashing is a product of over-hype and embellishment that is the product of the narrative best suited for sales. In my personal opinion, I think it's always best to be transparent on where there are areas for improvement, either by optimization or pure innovation, because a solution simply does not exist. This helps the entire ecosystem because it makes it far easier for innovators to identify how they can create solutions for market validated challenges that has a guaranteed buyer and it fosters collaboration and partnerships. More importantly, by identifying where there are opportunities to obtain assistance, the learning curve and risk capital spent on these endeavors can be drastically reduced which helps everyone, creating for a far more efficient market.
Rahul: I think the key is in bringing capital allocators to the data pool and
ensuring they understand ground realities in resiliency. This helps
prevent valuable from being diverted into tangential or hokey
innovation lanes. I believe a well aware capital allocator can cut
through the inevitable ‘greenwashing’ and allocate money to what
Riyana: Personally, I believe that the root of greenwashing is a lack of ethics. It's a desire to build in a false narrative that is used to get a company or a group of people ahead in order to benefit in some shape or form. So to me, the first thing that needs to be done as I myself reflect on my role in this industry, is to self-check. I should be holding myself accountable to questions such as, "Am I doing this to get anybody's buy-in?". If the answer is no, the next thing that needs to be done is to be fully transparent. The reality is that having totally green solutions takes time. This could mean completely uprooting a company's operations. Many stakeholders understand that this isn't possible. What can be done instead by the CEA industry, is to be transparent with this. Explain what you're working on and have clear metrics and easily explainable methods on how you plan on getting tho these goals. Additionally, be open about what you can't or won't be able to work on just yet.
Jeff: The best ideas and products that contribute to resiliency speak for themselves. To avoid greenwashing, producers should start with the product to build to the value for controlled environment farms, not start with the aspirational
ideas and work to the product as that leaves open the possibility of cutting
corners and greenwashing.