E680: Farmers Business Network co-founder & CEO Amol Deshpande on using data to empower farmers, how food supply actually works, GMOs & organics pros/cons & the future of feeding humanity



about this episode

There will be 11 billion people on the planet by the end of this century, and the challenge will be to sustainably and efficiently feed them. Food is becoming a big business, and big agriculture is taking over the Monsanto’s of the world with strong interests in profits. Amol Deshpande, CEO and co-founder of the Farmers Business Network, has raised $50M for the network and created a tool that uses data to help farmers thrive and maintain the family businesses they’ve had for generations. FBN takes an unconventional and disruptive approach by asking: “What good is the data if you can’t take action on it and do better for yourself?” Amol demos his product and bridges the divide in understanding in how our food supply actually works. Jason and Amol explore the world of GMOs and organics, and the future of feeding humanity.


01:15: Jason introduces his guest, Amol Deshpande.

02:32: Amol explains how our food supply actually works.

04:02: There isn’t a large conglomerate that owns a huge amount of farmland.

07:01: Farmers don’t sell directly to food brands because it’s an issue of capital and logistics.

07:45: FBN takes a different approach by asking farmers to contribute data to the network for a low cost, and then sharing back analytics for better decisions, ie: how much fertilizer, how to market their grain.

09:08: There is a sophisticated set of variables to farming, which is why the FBN infrastructure gives farmer a unique advantage.

09:44: Amol shares an FBN video, where farmers talk about sharing data for the first time.

15:02: Amol clarifies the underestimation of the farming community.

17:24: Amol shows us the product and explains aggregated data.

28:18: Amol speaks about his previous job at Kleiner Perkins and how it was good for entrepreneurs, because of the opportunity to think big.

31:09: Yield gains have tapered off, and after the intro of genetically modified crops, this is one of reasons why data has been important.

33:35: Amol breaks down a farmer’s typical margin.

39:20: Jason asks Amol about how he plans to make more money.

43:21: The two discuss the world of organics and GMO’s, and feeding humanity.

55:32: With the shift in regions in Asia, food trend changes from carbs to the inclusion of meat. Are you going to use the same model with livestock?

57:47: Given these complex problems, are you optimistic about future of humanity?

01:02:25: Jason encourages his audience to do something with your life, help humanity–food, energy, space.

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