WHY DO "PUSHING" TECHNOLOGIES HAVE THE OPPOSITE EFFECT ON SMALLHOLDERS THAN EXPECTED?
Updated: Mar 21
"We buy a book, not letters, a picture, not pixels, a mango, not technologies; we buy results.”
There is a reason that children start learning to write by writing letters, then words, and sentences only at the end.
Our goal is to write sentences, we can’t do without them, but we must start with letters.
However, what would happen if we fell in love with writing letters and refused to develop ourselves into writing words and sentences?
Q. Can you read the text below?
No. I don't see any.
Q. And now, can you read the scripture?
"y h n i e m u s t e c s i o n a r s e s s c e s l e n d a m s t h t r t h t b u s e l w i e s e s w o o d o o l o g."
I see letters, but they make no sense.
Q. Can you read it now?
"and are models out of business worthless ecosystems with technologies."
Now separately, each word makes sense, but together they don't.
Q. And now, can you read now?
"Technologies are worthless without business models and ecosystems."
Yes. I see letters connected to words that make a meaningful sentence.
Professional writers, who make a living from writing, must master the art of connecting Letters to Words and Words to meaningful Sentences.
They can’t compensate the readers with “extra letters” because they don’t master writing words or sentences as they should.
In fact, if you buy a book with many “extra letters,” you will probably get rid of it as soon as possible. And the writer who invested in printing “extra letters” may suffer bankruptcy.
What about agriculture? What are the "letters,” "words,” and "sentences" of agriculture?
What happens in agriculture when we use “extra letters”? Could it cause the bankruptcy of farmers?
THE BASICS OF AGRO-BUSINESS
We were Hunters and Gatherers until 11 thousand years ago when the agro-revolution occurred.
Like in writing, agro-technologies (and practices), the “letters” of agriculture, appeared first.
As human society and agriculture developed, trading became necessary, requiring “business models ."Business models are the “words” of agro-business.
The increased demand for agro-products developed more complex and sophisticated agroecosystems. Ecosystems create the “sentences” of agro-business.
We count three distinctive "Generations" of agro-business development.
G1) Self-sufficient Agriculture = Technologies.
G2) Agro-business = Technologies + Business models.
G3) Agro-industry-business = Technologies + Business Models + Ecosystems.
A thriving agro sector includes three fundamental pillars; Technologies, Business Models, and Ecosystems. Like in cooking, they should be balanced; too much of one spoils the cocking.
Think about what happens if we try to advance the agro-sector of a country by pushing in technologies without simultaneously developing dedicated business models and ecosystems.
Doing this is the equivalent of inserting “extra letters” into a book or extra sugar into a cake.
It may lead to a lose-lose situation, where farmers’ rate of progress slows down instead of being accelerated. The overall effect contributes to the persistence of poverty.
People watch this phenomenon and fail to understand why the poor results of national and global programs that subsidies technologies.
They say, “We gave them (the farmers) the best technologies, but they don’t do better. What is wrong with them?” e.g., the AGRA program.
Nothing is wrong with the farmers or the technology. We need more than sugar for a good cake and more than technologies for a thriving agro sector; in both cases, we must use the other ingredients in a balanced manner.
When you focus on technology and neglect the development of business models and ecosystems, you perpetuate farmers’ poverty.
CORRELATION OR ASSOCIATION
In the summer, more people eat ice cream, and the solar energy supply increases.
Are ice cream consumption and solar energy supply related?
No. They are associated with the summer but are not correlated.
We know they are not correlated because if we eat more or less ice cream, the solar energy supply will remain unaffected.
Imagine what would happen if people believed eating more ice cream would produce more solar energy!?
They would spend more money on ice cream, become overweight, and damage their health.
Since eating ice cream wouldn't increase their income from solar energy, they are wasting money (ice cream and subsequent healthcare issues), and time they don't have, which could have been invested more productively.
If two things happen simultaneously, it doesn't mean they are correlated or which causes which.
Is there something like this in agriculture?
Advanced farmers have an advanced ecosystem and use proper business models. And yes, they often, though not always, use advanced technologies.
Farmers from around the world arrive in Israel to see, learn, and copy from Israeli farmers.
Sometimes I meet those visitors at the end of their trip. I always ask them, “What do you take from this trip?”
They responded, “WOW, your farmers and agro sector are successful, and the technology we saw is so advanced and amazing. We want those technologies too."
They associated “success” with “advanced technologies,” and therefore, the conclusion is obvious, we need to invest in purchasing the most advanced technologies.
Did they ever speak about copying the Israeli agroecosystem and agro-business models?
You guessed correctly, NO.
You don’t ask about the things you don’t see and can’t touch, and the Israelis never mention this because they are so used to it that they don’t see the uniqueness of it.
When those agro-visitors return home a few days later, they report, “We have seen very successful farmers. They use advanced technologies. We must buy the same technologies?”
Remember, technology is not correlated with agro-business success; it is only associated with it.
Change occurs when Technologies are part of a Package with dedicated Business Models and Ecosystems.
I remind myself that 50 years ago, my parents didn't have the advanced technologies available today, yet, they were more successful than most farmers today.
How was it possible?
They used and developed advanced business models and ecosystems.
Nowadays, we can try doing it as we always did; pushing more technologies.
You already know what will happen, like inserting “extra letters” into a book – the situation may worsen.
The other option is providing a “Balanced Package” of the three elements of a thriving agro sector -
(2) Business models
(3) Technologies and services
The three elements must be compatible and balanced. Furthermore, we must use dedicated business models and ecosystems suitable to farmers’ needs, limitations, specific goals, and challenges for maximum impact.
Use this as a checklist for programs you are involved in, and you will never end up like the endless list of programs that failed to bring the results they hoped for.
Instead of taking chances on your program or project, join one of those activities and make success a sure thing.
1. Participate in the IBMA conference -
The first and only international event that discusses business models in agriculture, emphasizing models for smallholders.
Attention, you will miss the IBMA conference unless moving fast. Only one week is left (March 27-29).
2. Join Dream Valley (DV) -
A dedicated platform and model for smallholders in developing countries. Join Dream Valley's strategic users, investors, and business partners and create a legacy.
DV is based on the Israeli operation model; it includes the three pillars for thriving agriculture; a specially developed micro-Ecosystem, an innovative Business Model, and exclusive Technologies.
To advance or initiate local programs, contact me if you are an investor, businessperson, company, or organization working with smallholders or decision maker in a country that wishes to promote large-scale programs.
Ø TECHNOLOGY is not correlated with agro-business success; it is associated.
Ø TECHNOLOGIES' maximal impact is when applied with compatible ecosystems and business models.
Ø THRIVING AGRO-BUSINESS requires a balanced agro Package.
Ø ATTEND NOW the IBMA conference / join Dream Valley.
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See you soon,
Text me: at +972-54-2523425 (WhatsApp), or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you missed it, here is a link to last week's blog, "What Future Awaits Smallholders Without Disruptive Innovation, and How Can You Change This?"
Link to recent columns.
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.
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Change Begins With A Decision
That The Existing Reality Is A Choice
And Not A Decree of Fate