Hydroponics can rapidly help serve unmet demands for fresh organic vegetables, grown close to their market. Though limited by volume, growing food in hydroponic greenhouses has many advantages. Because the greenhouse's temperature and inputs can be precisely controlled, plants grow faster and face fewer diseases than their counter-parts outside in soil. A closed-loop irrigation system results in major water savings and uses less fertilizer, while not introducing pollutants into groundwater and soil. These greenhouses can be adapted to many different crops, and facilitate ease of rotation, which enable the farmers to more quickly react to changing consumer demand. Finally, growing hydroponic vegetables closer to consumers will help reverse the trend of foreign produce imports and transporting food across the oceans.Read More
We're often asked, "are these investments risky?" Of course, every investment has some level of risk, but agriculture can be one of the safest asset classes if the risks are managed properly. Investors should understand how risks are reduced in any particular asset and agriculture is no different.Read More
According to Tim Price, global strategist and manager of the VT Price Value Portfolio, there are both financial and emotional benefits to international asset diversification. "By investing internationally and across different business sectors, the underlying components of your portfolio will be less highly correlated to each other. With the prices of your equity holdings less likely to move in lock step with each other, the volatility of your portfolio will be lower. The attendant emotional rollercoaster will likely be altogether more bearable."
Agriculture offers a solid way to gain exposure to what the investment community calls "emerging markets," and the even less developed, "frontier markets." Emerging markets, like Brazil, are attractive to investors due to their rapid economic growth and industrialization. Frontier markets have lower market capitalization and liquidity than the more developed, emerging markets. Though these definitions aren't universally agreed upon, the investment research firm MSCI has defined these categories and routinely updates their index to reflect the relative status of each country.
What to Look For in Growth Markets
Major institutional investment firms diversifying their portfolios into these agricultural markets are looking for out-sized returns propelled by global labor and land price arbitrage. In one recent case, a joint Middle East venture is investing $1.3 billion in grain and livestock production across 10 countries around the Black Sea. Of course the risks for achieving these higher returns are somewhat different than normal agriculture risks, such as weather or disease. Growth markets also can experience geopolitical or currency risk, so it's important to understand the foreign region or work with someone who does.
There are many underdeveloped regions of the world with the right combination of sun, soil, and water to grow many types of crops. But in many areas skilled labor, a solid legal framework for owning land, as well as road and port infrastructure to bring goods to market are limited. Arif Naqvi, chief executive of Dubai's multi-billion private equity firm, the Abraaj Group, routinely invests in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He prefers to call these regions "growth markets" and argues that prior to investing in a region, four important macro questions must be answered: How Open is the government to reform? To what degree is urbanization occurring? What is the average consumer age? Is there a developing middle class?
Answers to these questions help investors identify opportunities while mitigating the risks in rapidly growing markets.
As we scroll down the list of healthy alternatives we find little gems that are quite often overlooked and certainly not always available at our nearest convenience store. These are the superfoods; natural foods with amazingly high concentrations of nutrients beneficial to our health and well-being.
One such superfood dear to our heart here at the Belize Cacao Consortium is the sun dried, mahogany coloured seeds we call cacao.
When we look at future generations, a majority of us would agree it’s important for them to have a safe and healthy world to live in, with plenty of resources available to sustain life. Achieving this image starts with what we, as a society, do today. Sustainable agriculture is just one way people are preparing for a better future, and there’s a way for all of us to get involved.Read More
The Trump administration’s promise of tax reform has investors across the country wondering how their portfolios will be impacted should this promise be fulfilled. Given the deal is still in negotiation between the House, Senate, and Administration, it’s hard to nail down specifics. However, farmland owners and investors in agriculture would can review the House of Representative’s Unified Framework for tax reform to better understand what this reform could mean to their investments.Read More
Savvy investors have long realized the advantages of owning real, tangible assets, especially those backed by underlying land. Real estate, both commercial and residential, is probably most familiar to alternative investors. But agriculture offers many of the same benefits, and can help diversify the real asset portions of a portfolio. In most cases, both commercial real estate and agriculture produce yield by collecting rents from tenants and returns from the appreciating value of land and the improvements on that land.Read More
For most of us, going to the grocery store involves creating a shopping list, fighting through crowds in the meat department, and dreading the lines at the cash register. There’s not much thought about how the food got there, or where the money came from to produce such a large amount of food needed to supply grocery store shelves. You may just think it’s all on the farmer, which in the past, it very well was.
In today’s age, there are opportunities to invest in agriculture and make a difference in what ends up in grocery stores. Yes, you can invest in agriculture, and no you don’t have to be a farmer. Take a look at the other top myths about investing in agriculture.
Similar to stocks or other traditional assets, agricultural investments can include many different sectors within the industry as a whole. With all of the available options, how does one decide which types of crops to invest in? One of the most common options is row crops. These commodity crops‒such as wheat, corn, and soybeans‒are staples of almost every country’s diet, and have historically been used by investors as a hedge against inflation. In addition to being consumed, these products are often used in feed for livestock and are the raw ingredients of almost everything we eat. The need for these crops will never subside; grains, corn, and soy are so prevalent in the food industry that demand is guaranteed to stand the test of time. The United States is the largest grain exporter in the world by quite a significant margin, and recent price stability is a good sign for both farmers and investors alike.Read More
It’s no secret that the stock market is the most common choice for most investors attempting to build their nest eggs. Millions of Americans regularly add stocks to their retirement accounts with the expectation that their hard-earned dollars are safe. Market cycles and inevitable corrections are a normal part of investing. However, some analysts are predicting that the next stock market crisis could eclipse that of 2007-2008. Cash, the traditional safe haven for investors, is not attractive due to persistent historically low interest rates, and large cash positions are continually eroded by inflation. This largely unprecedented environment has investors scrambling to protect their financial wealth and secure yield through alternative investments.Read More
What do tonight’s dessert and your next investment have in common? Potentially chocolate, or cacao plants, at least. Consumer demand for specialty cacao beans continues to grow and is actually outpacing farmers’ ability to grow it in some areas. The demand for specialty or flavored beans used in premium dark chocolate goods is rising even faster than the traditional bulk cacao beans used in other candy that many farmers are used to growing. Like many other soft commodities, the production of cacao is concentrated in a small group of mostly developing countries in the tropics. These farms are susceptible to extreme weather, conflicts, credit shortages, and lack of working capital. Even so, cacao farms present an attractive option for investors looking for relatively low-risk opportunities.Read More
Craft beer is sweeping the nation and changing the beverage industry. Parts of the farming industry have also undergone some major changes thanks to the surge in popularity of small-batch brews. Craft beer uses more key ingredients per batch than their large, national competitors. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average craft beer uses 3-7 times as much malt per barrel as a mass market beer. In addition to malt, which comes from barley, the demand for hops to brew IPAs has increased dramatically.Read More
Though sometimes overshadowed by Brazil’s political turmoil, the country’s agriculture sector nevertheless remains strong and competitive in the global market. There are large tracts of underdeveloped land that hold much potential for investors willing to put in the necessary capital to convert pastureland to farmland. It is expected that the world population will surpass 9 billion by 2050, meaning food production will have to increase by 70% to meet demand. Brazil is perfectly suited to accommodate this growing demand due to the availability of land.Read More
Crowdfunding is probably a word you have heard thrown around more and more in the past few years, but you may still be unsure of exactly what it encompasses. That’s a reasonable response because crowdfunding has come to mean different things to different people. There are two major types of crowdfunding: donation-based crowdfunding like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, and investment, or equity crowdfunding. Most people are generally familiar with platforms like Kickstarter, but may not have as much experience with equity crowdfunding. While equity crowdfunding also raises money via an internet platform, the two are vastly different. To clear up any confusion between the two different types of crowdfunding, we have outlined the major differences between them.Read More
Genetically modified organism (GMO) crops were first introduced to the market over 20 years ago as an environmentally-friendly solution to the problem of producing food for a rapidly growing world population. In many parts of the world, they are still seen as the solution for malnutrition, like these bananas that were created to provide children with vital nutrition they were lacking. They are genetically engineered to include traits such as resistance to weeds and pests, allowing farmers to use fewer pesticides. However, in some cases, weeds adapted and became more resistant to herbicide, meaning farmers had to increase their use of it. In addition to the concerns about the safety of ingesting GMOs, consumers began to worry about the health concern of more herbicides being consumed. Recently, the popularity of non-GMO crops has risen, as consumers seek out GMO-free products and farmers return to planting conventional seeds.Read More
Agriculture is a broad, ever-changing field that is rapidly advancing to keep up with global consumers and increase yields and profits. A more slowly-evolving sector has been access to financing. Equity crowdfunding is an emerging option to help farmers obtain capital.Read More
America consumes more chicken than any other country, driving a massive demand for poultry production. There are around 25,000 family farms involved in poultry production, and as demand for poultry products continues to rise, so does the need for poultry farms. It is becoming increasingly common for large companies to offer multi-million dollar contracts to farmers to raise chickens. In this arrangement, the company will provide the animals and feed, and the farmer will house and care for the birds. This arrangement ends up demanding a sizeable upfront investment on the farmer’s end, as he must develop the infrastructure of his farm and build large barns for the chickens.Read More
The stock market is where most investors invest the majority of their money, but is that really the safest place for it? Some analysts have called the current investing environment “the everything bubble” and are predicting that the next financial crisis could eclipse the one of 2007-2008. Lofty equity valuations along with continued low yields have driven more and more people towards alternative investments to protect and grow their wealth. Commercial real estate, precious metals, oil, and gas are well known alternative asset classes; agriculture is somewhat lesser known, but nonetheless important to consider. How do agricultural investments stack up against investments in more traditional stocks?Read More
We’ve covered the many benefits of investing in agriculture, and we often highlight the ability to diversify a portfolio. But what does that really mean? Diversification is important for investors, financial planners, and fund managers alike, as it can help protect a portfolio during a downturn in the market. When other, riskier investments are performing well, it can be easy to forget about (or avoid) investing in safer, low-risk investments that don’t promise a large, immediate return. Nevertheless, diversifying a portfolio is essential and agriculture can make a great addition by providing stable returns with very low risk. Agricultural production is one of the oldest investments out there, and can also be one of the most stable and profitable.Read More
There are many reasons to invest in agriculture: it is a low-risk investment that keeps pace with inflation and increases in value over the long-term, it is a tangible asset that provides benefit to the community, and it can diversify a portfolio. But how exactly does an investment like this make money? Depending on the investment and the type of farm, investors can profit through several different ways. We’ve covered five of the most common ways agriculture generates returns below.Read More