Food security is not a sprint, but a marathon. A conversation with Kellie Walters, CEO of VRM Biologik, about the different processes and programs they provide on a local, regional and national scale to the Food and Agriculture space in Australia, Malaysia, the USA, and China.
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Most of the issues we have now stem from the soil around us. How can we prevent the further degradation of our environment? How can we make it more sustainable for future generations? What is the role of the farmers, companies, investors, and policy makers/ government in all this? In this episode we dive into the story of how a small 30 year old sustainable input company in Australia is helping to shape the future of agriculture in China.
The Missing Element
In their effort to duplicate the natural processes that occur in rainforests, Kellie and her team discovered the missing key for plant growth, known as bacterial photosynthesis. Even without fertilizers, rainforests thrive due to the biologically active soil material that helps in photosynthesis. As a result of this observation, they created agricultural products that are very simple, easy, cost-effective for farmers to use.
“Looking around their farm, getting whatever biomass or organic residues exists, and creating for themselves an agricultural import: that’s what we do across the world.” – Kellie Walters
The Groundswell Process
With the help of the Groundswell process, green wastes have found another purpose — to provide nutrients to farm plants. This process involves fermentation, where a formula is added to biomass and left for six months. What makes it different from other imports is that green wastes are readily available on any farm, making it easy to do. The amount to re-apply also reduces over time as the buffering capacity of the soil increases, and it develops resilience.
“One that is most easily implemented on farms is called the groundswell process. This has been around for about 15 years now. What it rolls out to be is a static fermentation approach to taking any biomass that’s existing on the farm.” – Kellie Walters
From Malaysia to China
Kellie’s company, VRM Biologik, played an important part in helping Penang Island in Malaysia to be included in the Top 10 Regions for Processing Waste in a Sustainable way by the International Solid Waste Association. Penang Island widely implemented VRM Biologik’s Bioregion process, where putrescent organic materials such as food waste are converted into liquid biofertilizers. Their successful partnership bridged the expansion of VRM Biologik in China, which was looking for a way to be a self-sufficient country in terms of food.
“In about 2013, the Malaysian government opted to introduce us to the Chinese government via the Malaysian consulate in China. Our very first trip was over to Guangzhou, and we went on behalf of the Malaysian government.” – Kellie Walters
China’s Agricultural Policy
VRM Biologik has always aimed to restore 25% of the world’s arable land. When China has implemented a policy to stop using any additional synthetic fertilizer in 2020, this vision came closer to reality, with 20 million acres of land from the country now being regenerated using VRM’s products and processes. According to Kellie the world should follow China’s long-term approach to food security.
“Food security isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. So we really need to be addressing it in that way. And I think what China has done from a policy perspective is something that we grow differently from.” – Kellie Walters
Other Points Discussed
Koen and Kellie also talked about:
- What and where should an investor with a billion dollars focus on in the agricultural space;
- How to help farmers have an abundance mentality;
- How VRM Biologik finds a champion/pioneer for their business;
To know more about Kellie Walters and VRM Biologik, download and listen to this episode.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.