WHY DID THE ISRAELI AGRO-INNOVATION NOT REACH 97% OF THE FARMERS, AND HOW IT RELATES TO ECOSYSTEMS?
"As a gardener cultivates the plants in the garden, an ecosystem cultivates success.”
Twelve UN ambassadors were sitting in the room as Mr. Avi Hasson, the CEO of Start-up Nation Central (SNC), began his story, introducing them to the Israeli innovation ecosystem.
SNC is a public benefit entity whose primary goal is to connect 7300 Israeli high-tech industries with organizations and investors worldwide.
There is no one more appropriate to present Israeli Innovation and its Ecosystem than Mr. Hasson, whose in his professional history was an entrepreneur, VC partner, The Israeli Chief Scientist, and now is the SNC’s CEO.
I was invited to speak after Mr. Hasson, but I was fascinated by his presentation. It wasn’t the overall content but the topic he chose to emphasize, which I wish to convey to you.
The presentation was straightforward;
* The Israeli Innovation Leadership, * 2022 at a glance, and then * Israel's Innovation Ecosystem.
It appeared that the first parts (slides) were only a "built-up" to enable Mr. Hasson to talk about "The Ecosystem." After all, SNC is a major player in the Israeli innovation Ecosystem.
Indeed, from this point on, Mr. Hasson kept glorifying, explaining, describing, and emphasizing the importance of the Israeli Ecosystem to Israel’s thriving Innovation industry.
That included a statement that without this advanced and unique Ecosystem, we wouldn’t see this level of success among Israeli entrepreneurship.
Note the key slides from Mr. Avi Hasson's presentation –
It may look strange that SNC's CEO mentioned money, technologies, and entrepreneurs but focused on something other than those. Mr. Hasson focused on the importance of building an appropriate Ecosystem.
Because as he emphasized, it is the Ecosystem that enables continuous, sustainable, innovative industry and economic prosperity in Israel.
Do you think an advanced Ecosystem is needed only to develop an advanced "innovation industry," or is it a general characteristic required to advance anyindustry, including the agro-industry?
LEARNING FROM THE BEST
I am not trying to brag, but Israel is second to none when it comes to innovation. So if you want to learn or copy anything that has to do with innovation, listen to the best.
Therefore when Mr. Avi Hasson says that the Ecosystem is the secret and beating heart of the Israeli Innovation Industry – take it as a fact with proven results.
The Ecosystem is the secret behind any thriving sector, including the Israeli agro-industry.
In some of my previous columns, I spoke extensively about the Israeli Agro Sector Model and its three pillars:
* Business Models.
* Technologies and services.
Of the three pillars, the most difficult to describe and bring reason, but the basic one is the Ecosystem.
Developing economies must work to develop their own dedicated Ecosystem, even if it is not rewarding in the short term.
The Dream Valley initiative will help you do precisely that. When I work in developed countries, almost unnoticeably, I bring with me part of the Israeli agro-ecosystem spirit, experience, culture, order, connections, and success.
I want to build continuous and sustainable - local - agro success and legacy.
From experience, I know that the Ecosystem, even when applied at a micro-scale, will enable continuous and sustainable success.
This has a lot of value, though most people in developed economies wouldn’t notice or pay attention to it.
ECOSYSTEM IS A TWO-WAY DOOR
To this point, in this column, we established how critical the Ecosystem is to developing an advanced industry.
It is time to emphasize that per industry Ecosystem has two doors, not one.
THE FIRST DOOR – IS TO DEVELOP YOURSELF BY YOURSELF.
That is the door everyone is talking about, including this column up to here.
But wait, if the first ecosystem door is looking inward, the second will blow your mind, for it is looking outward, and its impact is unbelievable.
THE SECOND DOOR – IS TO FURTHER DEVELOP YOURSELF BY DEVELOPING OTHERS.
To explain this, I will use the telecommunication example.
THE TELECOM EXAMPLE
At first, those companies established themselves in advanced economies, thinking there was no market in developing economies, e.g., Africa, Asia, and LATAM.
Slowly they began working in developing economies. They did it by using the same business models used in developed economies.
But, in developing economies, that strategy offered safety but left most of the population outside their business.
What they did next was something to learn in business schools; they designed new business models dedicated to the economic abilities of people in developing economies, including smallholders making $ 1.5 per day.
They completed this by building an ecosystem to suit the new business model and their new customers’ needs, which required more activities and opened new business opportunities.
For example, extensive deployment of antennas to improve reception in remote villages, payment stands (e.g., Orange Money) to enable consumers to buy airtime in small packages, or Friends and Family one "bucket" of value.
It didn’t take long before those companies experienced rapid business growth with increasing profitability.
With better service and prices, the early adopters who paid more at the beginning moved to companies that offered better coverage, service, and prices.
In a relatively short time, telecommunication companies developed an ecosystem for emerging economies and developed novel business models so they could introduce and sell their technology and services.
Can we learn from this about Israel’s agrotech industry and how it can prosper by serving dedicated tailor-made Packages to 97% of farmers, which happened to be small-hold farmers?
Can small-hold farmers benefit from Israeli agrotech companies making themselves available and accessible?
The answer to both questions is – Sure, BIG YES.
What from this do we see today? Nothing!!
What can and should we see tomorrow? Everything!
Israeli entrepreneurs develop advanced agro technologies and services, which they sell to professional farmers that can pay for premium agrotech.
Doing so, they address 3% of the farmers, those who are advanced/professionals. Meanwhile, they miss 97% of farmers (550 million), those in developing economies.
This is like the telecom industry’s business behavior in its early days. The telecom companies were sure there was no business working with “poor” Africans, Indians, etc.
But now, thanks to developing and introducing novel dedicated ecosystems and business models, they can’t do without those subscribers.
Furthermore, telecom companies that didn't adapt and change in time were left behind and didn't flourish in those markets.
The telecom example is a win-win; for the companies and the people.
Israeli agrotech companies are not as big as telecom companies, but they still need to follow the same route to unlock the Blue Ocean of 97% of farmers in developing economies.
It takes years, $ millions, and tremendous collective effort before you get your agrotech solution ready to market and use. How awful it is to find that 97% of your company's potential market is inaccessible after all this.
No entrepreneur, company, or industry is too successful in giving up on 97% of its potential market.
I remember, as a young entrepreneur with an ambitious goal of developing an alternative to pesticide sprays. The experts explained that I should focus on the organic markets, which constituted 3% of the total market at that time.
I rejected the idea outright, first because why should I give up 97% of the markets, and second, why spray-free produce should not reach all possible consumers.
Instead, I said that the new technology would suit all farmers and the higher quality produce would sell to all supermarkets and consumers.
Twenty-five years later, Biofeed’s spray-free technology solution is integral to a Package offered by Dream Valley Company.
“The Package” is designed to help small-hold farmers rapidly increase the yield and quality and then sell it in premium markets for a premium price.
How is it done?
By using state-of-the-art technologies, services, and protocols within the framework of a dedicated tailor-made minimal, yet sophisticated, Ecosystem energized by a dedicated novel Business Model.
In short, the three pillars of the Israeli Model are re-designed and applied as a tailor-made Package for local usage.
Can it work?
In 2021 this powerful Package was field tested by hundreds of mango growers on a national-scale pilot in Senegal, over 2,500 hectares.
As a result, Senegal doubled its mango export to the EU with an additional 12M kg free of sprays (valued at $ 12M), and small-hold farmers doubled their income.
A year later, in 2022, without the Dream Valley package/pilot, Senegal's mango export plunged to its baseline, and farmers returned to poverty.
THE INVISIBLE BLUE OCEAN
How did Dream Valley double Senegal's national mango export (the country’s #1 export crop) and farmers’ income in less than a year?
Technology helped, but it was available years before, including in Senegal, so that it couldn’t be the prime element.
This was possible ONLY due to the consolidation of innovative Technology and services with a dedicated Ecosystem and Business Model into a tailor-made Package.
Sounds simple? It is, particularly when the concept is already field-tested and the people are experienced.
Do you still think there is no business opportunity in developing economies?
Do you think technology alone is the solution to poverty and hunger?
Do you think only big multinational companies with a fat multi-million $ budget provided by the World Bank can bring change and benefit to emerging economies?
Do you think small-hold farmers are hopeless regarding the business opportunities they can offer you and that there is no way you can’t benefit from working with them?
If your answer to one of the above questions is Yes, you should recheck your concept and assumptions.
The secret I share here with you is that –
Although you may not realize it yet, you now swim in the Red Ocean.
In contrast, small-hold farmers in developing economies can be your Blue Ocean.
To enjoy the Blue Ocean, you need to change and adjust yourself.
o take advantage of the two agriculture segments (i.e., 3% professional and 97% small-hold farmers), we need more than advanced Technology/Services. We need a dedicated, tailor-made Package containing the three pillars to fit each segment best according to its specific characteristics.
This will enable agrotech companies and farmers to maximize their business potential and, by doing so, transfer poverty and hunger into prosperity and resilience.
The Israeli Start-Up Nation Central can be the accelerator for developing dedicated Ecosystems and Business Models to enable Israeli agrotech companies to work in developed economies.
Because technology without selling it is, and without improving the lives of others - is nothing.
Selling the Israeli agrotech to the 3% of professional farmers is a success that can be magnified by extending to working with smallholders, which make up 97% of this market.
HOW DO I START?
If you fear working with farmers in emerging economies because it may be costly, risky, and time-consuming, then I have good news for you.
I am ready to assist you in achieving your goals (business/operational/social) under one of the two platforms herein (you can even select both).
Getting on board one of those platforms will save you years, if not decades, and $ millions, if not tens of $ millions.
Platform A: Learn from experts. Take part in The International Conference On Business Models In Agriculture (IBMA), March 27-29, 2023. This conference, the first of its kind, is dedicated to helping those who wish to develop their own business model based on the experience of others.
Platform B: Join the Dream Valley operation as a client, investor, or business partner. With Dream Valley, you don’t waste time and money on designing, testing, trying, failing, risking, etc. Dream Valley provides a ready-to-use complete End To End (from agro inputs to the market shelf) Package based on the Israeli, field-tested, business-oriented three pillars model; (a) Ecosystem, (b) Business Model, and (c) Technologies and Services.
I understand that the simplest, easiest, and “safest” is to continue selling the same old-new innovative Technologies and Services with customers who share the same Ecosystem and Business Models as yours.
But, reality shows that this enables you to work with only 3% of your potential global market. To reach the additional 97% of farmers, you must develop and adapt your "agricultural package" to their needs and demands.
The business potential is limited, and the words Impact, Climate change, UN SDGs, and ESG are empty and meaningless without working with 97% of the world's farmers.
The way to achieve your business and humanity's global goals is by cultivating the agro-industry-business Ecosystem in emerging economies (i.e., the target market). At the same time, you should continue cultivating the Ecosystem in your own country.
According to Prof. Clayton Christenson, Disruptive Innovation requires - a Disruptive Business Model + Technology.
As discussed in a previous column, the agro sector in developing economies requires nothing short of Disruptive Innovation.
This column indicates the need for a suitable dedicated Ecosystem in the target market that will allow the acceptance of the Disruptive Business Model + Technology.
That is, successful implementation of Disruptive Innovation requires a Disruptive Business Model + Ecosystem + Technology. Not by chance, Dream Valley is founded on these foundations.
Of course, you can keep doing whatever you do today in the developed economies, working with advanced professional farmers and telling everybody how wonderful it is while using “sophisticated” sprays, chemicals, and other more-of-the-same historical approaches. In this case, I wish you luck, and there is no need for you to dive into any of the above.
But – I'm inviting you personally to contact me directly and discuss different possibilities to bring prosperity to the farmers… and you.
I invite you to create your legacy.
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Ø ECOSYSTEM is one of the three pillars of a thriving agro sector.
Ø ECOSYSTEM is what enables many to reach excellence in a specific sector.
Ø TWO Ecosystems impact your professional and business success; the one where you originated and where you wish to provide (sell) your technology or service to others.
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See you soon,
Text me: +972-54-2523425 (WhatsApp), or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you missed it, here is a link to last week's blog, "The Surprising Root Cause of Farmers' Poverty."
Link to recent columns.
Start-Up Nation Central welcomes delegation of UN ambassadors for Israeli innovation (The Jerusalem Post)
The IBMA conference provides the stage to share your experience with agriculture business models and learn from others.
Dream Valley is a field-proven disruptive business model based on the successful Israeli model. Contact me if you view yourself as a potential investor, business partner, or client. Email, +972-542523425 (WhatsApp/Text)
Please look at the video series “The Agricultural Gap." I explain the historical roots of the agricultural gap between African and Western countries with short videos.
I see this video series as "uncompleted," as I am waiting to gain more confidence before completing the chapters with The Solution, as I perceive it.
If you like it, don’t forget to share it with those who need to see it and Subscribe.
Change Begins With A Decision
That The Existing Reality Is A Choice
And Not A Decree of Fate