Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Turns Focus to Agriculture

With a new CEO at the helm from October last year, Temasek has continued its push into agriculture, growing holdings in life science and agriculture to over $26bn, up from $5.7bn in 2015. It has taken the stance that to achieve food security, an efficient and resilient system is needed; this coming from a sector that often puts off investors due to large amounts of government influence and the need for capital-intensive land. 

Singapore currently only produces 10% of its food but is working hard to increase this to 30% by utilising and investing in new technologies to create resistant supply chains in a complex global system. 

Food security, for every nation, is becoming an ever-pressing threat. From unpredictable world events such as the war in Ukraine, to heatwaves and wildfires caused by climate change, food production and prices take a hit. Those impacted the hardest are poorer nations and those who are unable to produce sufficient food domestically. 

One example of Temasek’s recent ventures into agriculture is eFishery, where it co-led the company’s $90m Series E alongside Soft Bank and Sequoia Capital India. The Indonesian firm, who I spoke to back in 2019, are attempting to revolutionise the ancient art of aquaculture by providing systems, software and financial support for fish and shrimp farmers. Over 30,000 farmers in Indonesia use eFishery digital feeders and 7,000 have utilised the funding platform, totalling more than $28m in loans provided. 

Temasek is proving to bring more than simple cash to its portfolio companies, helping eFishery with expansion plans into India, Thailand and Vietnam. Similar to its work with Impossible Foods Inc., after investing in 2017, Temasek helped the company during its 2019 international expansion plans. 

Using 70% of fresh water, almost half of habitable land and employing 30% of the total workforce, it is no surprise the agricultural sector produces around a third of greenhouse gases. Although more disappointing is the third of all food produced going to waste. There is huge scope for disruption within the system, at every level, and hopefully funding continues to be channelled accordingly. 

“When we started looking at this, most of our peers were not focused on this industry because it tends to have government influence, it’s volatile and it involves land, which can be capital intensive,” Maheshwari said in an interview. But if we don’t create a system that is more efficient and resilient to climate change “the food security of the planet is at risk.”

By Conor Barrett on 03/08/2022