BY DR. NIMROD
I wish to share with you a problem I encountered earlier this week, and for which I would love to get your “2 cents” of advice.
Conference organizers, who are genuinely interested in promoting the agro-sector in Africa, asked me to chair the conference that they are organizing.
I still didn’t give them my approval yet; this week, we held our first e-meeting, where we got to know each other and discussed the purpose and content of the conference.
I used the opportunity to raise a concern that the conference, like many before it, would be a friendly and pleasant meeting place, with many exciting speeches delivered.
Yet, when the dust settles after the conference, it will be “just another conference,” and like its predecessors, it will pay lip service while creating zero tangible and practical impact.
The above concern is not an act of paranoia. It is enough to look at the last one or two decades, to see the considerable number of conferences on this topic and ask, “What was the progress and practical contribution resulting from these conferences?”
I am afraid that the answer is easy to see and measure in every village, in every country across Africa, and it is unflattering evidence.
“THE IMMEDIATE SUSPECT”
Interestingly, when we ask ourselves, “How should we promote agriculture in emerging economies?” the nearly automatic answer is; through intensifying the introduction of technologies.
That is precisely my fear. As a technological entrepreneur and the CEO of a leading technology-oriented company, I am well aware of the limitations of technologies, regardless of how advance and good they are.
I wish to avoid once again falling for the trap of focusing on the convenient and easy answer for all the sicknesses of Africa’s agro-sector – technology.
Remember, technology per se is insufficient to make a change. It requires training, education, service, skills, investment… and the belief and trust that it will bring the expected results later.
In addition, I ask myself, “Is the introduction of advanced technologies the key factor for the progress in the agro-sector, or is it the other way around?”
Ask yourself, “Today, do farmers in emerging economies have less access to technology than Western farmers had 70 years ago when great progress took place in those economies?“
What is your answer to those questions?
A STRAIGHT-FORWARD APPROACH
When I encounter a problem, I do not tend to go around the bush but rather to set clear goals, even if the required results are not easy to achieve.
In the case of the agro-sector, I believe that the GOAL should be; “To improving farmers’ livelihood by creating prosperity.”
To this end, we will need to set the TARGETS of; “To improve the quality and yield parameters, to enable access to the best global (export) markets, to fetch the best price for the quality produce.”
The best prices for our produce we can fetch in the premium export markets. However, reaching the export markets poses many challenges to the farmer and the value chain.
Would you change the Goal or Targets?
I was looking to understand better what people involved in the agro-sector in emerging economies see as the main obstacles to progress.
So I reached out to those people through the social nets and asked them for their opinion – below are the answers (presented in random order).
|The response was overwhelming, with many answers pointing to many directions. Overall, I noted that:1. There were many reasons that the respondents raised.2. There was no agreement on a single reason.3. “Technology” or “Access to Technology” was among the reasons but not the only or the most frequent reason the respondents pointed out.Yet, we always focus on “Technology” as the leading solution to promote and advance the agro-sector in emerging economies, as if it was a magic potion.Is it because we believe that what works well for advanced Western farmers must bring the same results to farmers in the emerging economies?From this questionnaire, many meetings, field trips, and other studies, I have concluded the following; (1) the failure of the agro-sector in emerging economies stems from multiple factors, (2) any suggested solution should take this into account, (3) “technology” is NOT the solution for this multi-system failure, but rather an element in a future solution. THE LOGICAL DIRECTIONAs the result of decades of broad field experience, I outline the Green Valley concept.I later developed the concept and content of the Green Valley Package, which addresses the full scope of issues related to the transition from Agriculture to Agro-industry (picture below).|
For many reasons, which I discussed in previous articles, Green Valley chose “mango” as its “model crop.”
This strategic decision is supported by the unparalleled ability to control fruit flies, at export quality standards, without sprays. This is possible thanks to the FreeDome breaking through fruit fly control technology and the complementary novel Fruit Fly Certified Trade Zone (FFCTZ) protocol.
Although the ability to effectively control fruit flies is a game-changer to mango growers and exporters, the Green Valley Package relates to the broad range of needs of the fresh mango export value chain.
In short, although I view myself as a very technological-oriented person, note how many times the word “technology” repeats in the text below describing the Green Valley approach.
* ATTITUDE: to jump-starting the agro-industry and transfer it from “Agriculture” to “Agro-industry” is a multidisciplinary approach designed to apply fully and simultaneously as a Vision2Market Solution.
* PILLARS: Land, Technology, Capital, Education, and Culture.
* FOCUS: Export crops, High-value crops, and Nurturing farmers.
* METHODS OF DELIVERING KNOW-HOW: Capacity Building, Demo Farms, and Center of Excellence.
|This brings me back to my request from you at the beginning of the column; please share with me your opinion and advice.What do you think should be the focal point of a conference interested in advancing the issue of the agro-sector in Africa and emerging economies, and what should be the indicators for the success of such a conference?I am looking forward to your ideas, suggestions, and proposals!|
|Please, if you found value in this article, it would mean a lot to me if you send me a comment and share it with your friends.|
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