Finding a Way to Feed The World

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Leading a large organization is full of high-stakes situations that can make or break a company. But in some cases, a company’s livelihood isn’t the only thing on the line. Sometimes, and this is not hyperbole, the entire world is relying on the decisions you make.

Elisha Hermann is a Global Supply Chain Strategy and Innovation Partner at Bayer Crop Sciences, where she and her team are on a mission to make sure the world doesn’t starve. And if that isn’t challenging enough, she’s also helping to figure out how to make feeding the world equitable and sustainable utilizing the technology that’s at the heart of everything Bayer does. The stakes are high and things like infestations, soil erosion, supply chain issues, legislation, trade, and climate change add wrinkles to the problem at every turn. Learn how Bayer is addressing those challenges and more on this episode.

Main Takeaways

  • Science And Data First: Whether the global food chain is at stake or if you’re a business owner just trying to put a product out to market, data should always be leading the way. Gather and analyze as much information and data as you can, and come up with science- and data-based solutions to whatever problems you face. And then, if you fail, take that data and use it as a jumping-off point to improve and move forward.
  • Tech Is The Answer: AI, machine learning, blockchain, automation — all of these may seem like buzzwords with more hype than practical application, but the truth is that each of these technologies is being used in real and impactful ways. To go from an idea to a solution, though, implementing solutions at scale is necessary, even if it means you have to fail fast and pivot..
  • Chain Reaction: The pandemic accelerated innovation and spurred digital transformation in every industry. As more activity moves online, the supply chain will likely see some changes that will make sourcing patterns, product lifecycles, and other aspects less complex and more transparent every step of the way.

Key Quotes

“It’s science first and everybody’s altered mentality and methodology working towards a common goal of the company…They never settle, we’ve found new, either R&D products or new digital solutions, but we’re not finished yet. It’s always science first and how are we advancing? It doesn’t stop there. It’s embedded with the whole company …it’s always what’s next for us.”

“We have a fail-fast mentality. As soon as we can get to that minimum viable product, we can choose go or no-go. That didn’t work, what are other options? How can we move forward?” 

“It’s a pretty high stakes game but we know that in order to give a good experience or to increase the yield for the crops to support the population that’s growing, we need to move fast because babies are still being born and people still need to eat.”

 “Another big challenge is accessibility for some of the small-holder farmers — anybody in Africa, India, anything that’s less than 20 hectic acres is considered small-holder farmers. These are just family farms that are feeding villages and really understanding how we can help them to get a high yield in the crop, how to plant what, what goes along the cycle and the planting season.”

 “The average yield for farmers over the years has grown four-fold of what they can do with the same amount of land, but… once we have the food grown, how do we preserve it? The crop might fail or it isn’t what you expected or never makes it to market. I think in India, 40% of crops never made it to the market.”

“There’s 200 or 200-ish thousand people being added to the population every day. So how are we supposed to feed all of the new people with the same amount of land?”

“We have just come out with a blockchain solution…  Essentially, we can use seeds and track and trace them all the way from the creation of the seed, to the distribution, to the farmer, to the harvest, and then all the way to the process and refinery and beyond. We can follow one little, tiny seed to see where it ends up and you will have a whole of information surrounded by that.”

“The pandemic spurred innovation acceleration or a digital transformation acceleration…. Watching the different supply chains and understanding how complicated they are, it’s really just a time to reset and focus and work on your transformation story… supply chains will probably become less complex, a lot more visible  and a lot more ecommerce central.”

“We’re really trying to look at all the different technologies that are coming out from a consumer side, like QR codes, drones, what are all of those things that companies are coming up with that either give us a competitive edge or keep us competitive based on our backend that we have in our platform.”


Elisha Hermann has more than 15 years of IT Supply Experience. She has helped companies to solve complex supply chain challenges utilizing technology with a focus on emerging technologies and innovation. At KPMG US, she was the Director of International Trade, Technology and Transformation. Over the last year, she has focused on process improvement utilizing block chain, predictive analytics, machine learning, robotics, RPA, digital imaging, and ocular technology.

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