Gro in conversation with former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson


We live in unstable times – and food security and climate change are at the center of it. It has never been more urgent for our systems and institutions to become more resilient in order to be able to meet these challenges.

Gro Intelligence CEO Sara Menker sat down with former US Treasury Secretary and Paulson Institute President Hank Paulson on her podcast, Straight Talk, to discuss agricultural markets and food security as well as impacts of climate change. They also explained how Gro leverages our platform to help financial institutions, corporations, and public institutions measure and manage climate risk on various assets and asset classes.

Listen to the full recording of their conversation on Youtube, SpotifyWhere Apple podcast.

Creation of the Gro platform for agriculture, climate and economy

Gro Intelligence began building the Gro platform in 2014 to answer fundamental questions facing global agricultural systems. How do you predict the supply, demand and trade, and ultimately the prices of every agricultural product on Earth every day? How can data and information drive systematic change in the industry?

“If you think about what that means, it’s not just for corn or wheat or soybeans or commodities that are traded on exchanges, but it’s also for vanilla beans and black pepper and livestock and dairy,” Menker said. “It’s the whole spectrum of the agricultural system.

The Gro platform aims to provide unique analytics that help organizations understand the complex interrelationships between supply, weather, demand, and trade – the key price-determining factors. Gro ingests large, disparate datasets from governments, satellites, and private companies for regions and cultures around the world. Among the datasets are large amounts of environmental, weather and future climate projections.

Gro then normalizes this data, allowing for an understanding of the global system. Using machine learning and AI, Gro built predictive models to provide actionable insights into agriculture, climate, and the economy. We also look to the past, present, immediate future and long-term future to measure climate risks in agricultural supply chains.

“Over eight years, we’ve built an explicit geospatial framework to measure the climate risk of any physical asset anywhere on Earth,” Menker said. “With this very robust engine, we can really start looking at how to really develop agriculture from the climate side, so that we can measure both immediate and long-term climate risks for any type of institution that manages any what a set of physical assets.

Solve challenges across industries

Gro mixes and matches our models for different types of decisions made by financial institutions, companies and public institutions.

Financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies use Gro’s Yield forecasting models, for example, to examine insurance policies or loan rates applied to agricultural products. Gro’s yield prediction models estimate in-season yields at the county/district, state/province and national level on a daily basis for a variety of crops and regions around the world.

For a CPG business, our yield forecasting models can be leveraged for better sourcing strategies. CPG companies also use our Land suitability modelwhich examines alternative regions where the land and growing conditions are suitable for growing a crop.

For governmental and multilateral organizations, our platform helps clients better understand how to manage national food security risks, Menker explained.

What to watch out for in Gro

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has exacerbated pressures on our agricultural systems, given the Black Sea region’s contributions to global food supplies – particularly wheat, sunflower oil and fertilizers . Gro is closely monitoring the impact of the war in Ukraine on commodities and has created a resources page here to help organizations weather unprecedented supply chain shocks.

Persistent drought in many parts of the world – from East Africa to Western Europe and the US Midwest – has also weighed on global agricultural supplies and supply chains. Gro’s drought index and Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture continuously track growing conditions around the world to signal when drought events are impacting crop production.

“It’s a real shock and we still have to continue to manage. And that doesn’t mean that if the dryness goes away, it goes back to normal. Our resilience factors need to be adjusted to how we think about inventory, how we think about our supply chains, because that’s here to stay,” Menker said.

Beyond the Drought, Gro’s Agriculture Climate Risk Navigator allows users to monitor growing conditions – including temperature, precipitation, as well as Gro’s indices for drought and vegetative health – highlighted for the area planted of a specific crop at the county/district level , state/province and national level. The Navigator can also be weighted for demographic data sets to examine the effects of climate change on economies.

“What always shocks me is the spatial distribution of the results on our platform where the most affected regions are. The regions that will be most affected are the most populated regions of these countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of those affected areas and poverty rates are already very high,” Menker said.

As As governments, aid organizations and companies in the agricultural supply chain try to adapt to these current realities, they need timely and transparent data from trusted sources. The Gro platform is designed to deliver this data and help our customers see around the corner, enabling better, faster and more informed decisions.

contact us at [email protected] to speak to a member of our team or get a demo of our platform.


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