Startup Nation Central (SNC), a Tel Aviv-based NGO, recently sent a delegation of agri-tech experts from Israeli startups to Kenya for a project to improve food security in the impoverished country.
The NGO’s delegation partnered with the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which works to “increase the incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.”
“This is a huge opportunity for Israel and for African farmers, an opportunity that Israeli technology can change the lives of independent African farmers,” said Shira Goldblum, strategic partnerships manager at Start-Up Nation Central.
The goal of the delegation was to foster relationships by using Israeli technologies and solutions to improve the quality of results for African farmers.
“Every year, SNC organizes more than 60 highly-tailored customized delegations per year. We researched AGRA’s challenges and problems months in advance, and used our database of over 6,000 startups to pinpoint which Israeli startups that would be able to provide AGRA with solutions,” she explained.
Startup Nation Central, inspired by the 2009 bestseller Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, is a non-profit organization which matches problems of business and government leaders with the people and technologies that can solve them.
AGRA’s website identifies the problems facing African farmers, including infertile soil, unreliable water supply and low quality seeds. The dialog between the Israeli experts in agriculture technology and AGRA aimed to offer solutions to these issues.
AGRA president Dr. Agnes Kalibata spoke about the multi-sector, agricultural initiatives to advance African countries towards sustainable development goals. Before joining AGRA, Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources. She is considered one of the most successful agriculture ministers in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Israeli companies which participated in the delegation included Amaizz, Fido, Edenshield and Netafim.
Ido Batchko, co-founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based Amaizz, made a presentation on using his company’s technology to minimize post-harvest losses.
Naty Barak, CEO of Netafim – also based in Tel Aviv, spoke about smart-drip and micro irrigation solutions for African farmers.
“Africa is the new frontier and we are working all over Africa but there is one challenge: to work with small-holder farmers. We cannot ignore 500 million small-holder farmers who produce 80% of the food in the developed world and we are a private company, so we need partners,” Barak told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview.
“The meeting was great because AGRA can be a very important link for our work in Africa. We [the world] face many problems such as water scarcity and we, Israel and Netafim, have an answer,” he concluded.
Israeli government officials who participated in the discussion about agriculture in Africa including Yael Ravia-Zadok, ambassador to Cyprus, and Gil Haskel, ambassador to the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi.
SNC is sending another delegation of Israeli entrepreneurs to Africa in September to participate in the African Green Revolution Forum in the Rwandan capital Kigali. The Israelis will have an opportunity to showcase their technologies in front of some 2,000 farmers and government officials attending the forum.
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