Africans visit Start-up Nation in search of Israeli agricultural innovation

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa will leverage Israeli innovation to help improve food security for the continent.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A delegation from the Alliance for a Green Revolution  in Africa (AGRA) just completed a two-day visit to Israel to learn about local companies that specialize in agriculture technology (agri-tech) that can be brought back to African farmers to upgrade their food production.

AGRA is backed by some of the biggest names in the non-profit world, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Food Program, as well as the Canadian, German and UK governments.

Its goal is to increase the incomes and food security of 30 million smallholder farm households across 11 African countries.

The group came as guests of Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), a non-profit organization whose purpose is to connect organizations and companies having problems with innovative Israeli companies that can solve them, so that profitable partnerships can be created.

SNC claim to have “the largest and most up-to-date discovery platform of Israeli innovators and entrepreneurs, (Start-Up Nation Finder), which provides critical information on more than 5,500 companies across dozens of industries” including agri-tech, water-tech, cybersecurity, fintech and digital health technology.

During their stay, the delegation visited the Volcani Center, Israel’s national R&D facility for agricultural innovation. They also had discussions with the founders of various local companies who showcased their cutting-edge technologies in fields such as crop protection, field monitoring and micro-irrigation.

“Africa is the new frontier and we are working all over Africa but there is one challenge: to work with smallholder farmers,” said Naty Barak, the CEO of sustainability of the Netafim (water-tech) startup, to The Jerusalem Post.

“We cannot ignore 500 million smallholder farmers who produce 80 percent of the food in the developed world and we are a private company, so we need partners….The meeting was great because AGRA can be a very important link for our work in Africa.”

The four members of AGRA, including its president, also met with providers of sustainable infrastructure development projects. These included the heads of Mashav (the Center for International Development Cooperation) at the Foreign Ministry, and TOV, a new international development program directed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that specifically focuses on opening Israel’s agri-tech sector to small farmers in developing countries.

AGRA has identified infertile soil, unreliable water supply, and low-quality seed among the most prevalent problems facing African farmers.

As reported in the Post, SNC’s Strategic Partnerships Manager, Shira Goldblum, said, “We believe we put AGRA in front of some outstanding startups,”  providing an opportunity for Israeli technology to “change the lives of independent African farmers.”