Western Growers launches automation initiative
Western Growers, the organization of fresh produce growers in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, announced Thursday, April 15, it is spearheading an initiative to increase automated harvesting in fresh produce industry, with a goal of automating 50% of harvest within 10 years.
The plan is called the Global Harvest Automation Initiative.
“For well over a decade, our members have struggled with a dwindling number of available workers,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia.
“If we don’t come together as an industry to quickly and efficiently deliver automation solutions for farmers in this country, it is likely that the shift of fresh produce operations to other countries will dramatically increase,” Puglia said.
“The Global Harvest Automation Initiative is aimed directly at this challenge, and the alignment of so many industry leaders and partners in this endeavor is a strong indicator of our shared commitment to success.”
The group said the initiative includes:
▪ Technology Stack: A documented set of technical interfaces that will help startups leverage industry-standard components so their robots can get into fields and markets faster.
▪ Harvest Automation Cohort: A cohort of automation startups will be selected based on industry input to receive exclusive access to systems integration to help integrate the tech stack into their product roadmap, strategy for go-to-market support, field trials and case studies.
▪ Impact Report: A comprehensive analysis on the impact of harvest automation on the specialty crop industry will be provided annually based on grower metrics.
▪ Harvest Automation Traction Roadmap: A list of current harvest automation startups by crop type and in-market progress/traction will be distributed regularly.
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