2. Develop the next generation of farmworkers The changing face of agriculture and increasing adoption of smart and autonomous solutions requires new capabilities and skills for farm labor workers. With the support of the $750,000 grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Western Growers is developing a curriculum to provide California college students with best-in-class agtech training. The overall goal is to get 3,000 agtech workers ready in four years to help growers, agtech equipment companies, agtech start-ups and equipment dealers. Next to preparing students, the grant will allow specialized training of 330 Next Gen Ag Workforce professors within four years. The initiative will enable the creation of new programs statewide to develop the key skills students need to work in agtech innovation – from engineering to agronomy to biology to computer science. Through the collaboration of Western Grower members, partners and California educa- tors, the program will ensure growers and agtech companies will get access to the most highly skilled graduates in the country. Western Growers is open to collaborate and share education material with other states and countries that are facing similar issues. 3. Provide access to commoditized technology components To enable faster technology development with less required research and development capital, Western Growers continues to develop its technology stack. Key achievements in 2022 include an image library strategy developed in collaborations with university and equipment partners to build an image library with key metadata tags for four crops. The image library will be launched in the first quarter of 2023. In addition, Western Growers is actively working with grant partners, such as UC Merced, UC ANR and F3, to integrate tech stack components into grant implementation opportunities.
Looking ahead, Western Growers will continue to engage and build on these accomplishments and will further seek efforts to enlarge industry collaboration on global scale, engage with agchem companies to test new breeding techniques that could facilitate automation and support start-ups in their development and go-to-market strategies. Furthermore, the HarvestWiki launch (a wiki-style grower knowledge base for start-ups) is planned for Q1 2023 and will enable increased data transparency in terms of new farming formats and grower economics. This report will be updated on an annual basis to consistently track, measure and report on the industry progress of harvest automation in the fresh produce industry The 2022 specialty crop automation report has built on the established baseline for the status and impact of harvest automation in the fresh produce industry to measure overall industry progress from a grower and start-up perspective. Future reports will continue to measure the aggregate impact of automation. The second version of the report already includes an enlarged crop focus, including table grapes, and increased geographical focus, including both U.S. and Europe. The aim for future versions is to further enlarge both crop focus and geographical coverage of the report to leverage global best practices and advance harvest automation across the fresh produce industry on a global scale. Finally, the aim is to widen both grower and start- up coverage to increasingly segment and draw greater insights across different farm sizes, crops and geographies and further map evolutions of the start-up landscape.
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