November 2, 2020 Tel Aviv: Senior government officials from seven countries – Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Macedonia and Israel – attended an online “Smart Agriculture” conference held by IMPROVATE to assimilate smart agriculture in Southeastern Europe with Israeli technologies. The officials called on Israeli agri-tech companies to come and do business in the region and take advantage of EU funding for smart agriculture.
Watch the conference:
Former Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, who chaired the conference, said with regard to the opportunities presented by European Union funding for Israeli companies: “The European Union directs some 400 billion euros to agriculture. Many Israeli businessmen who want to set up partnerships in the Balkan countries, sometimes do so in an inefficient way. IMPROVATE is an efficient platform that enables direct contact with decision makers. In two or three days it provides full knowledge of the market. In two to three days you can see, you can connect, and you can make business.”
Also speaking at the conference was the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, who said that recent peace agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain open up amazing opportunities for cooperation, not only between the Gulf states and Israel, but also between Israel, the Gulf and Southeastern Europe.
“Bulgaria and Romania and other countries in Southeastern Europe are going through a fintech wave in the last couple of years. The UAE also has a very dynamic hi-tech sector and capital opportunities. I would like to urge all of you to look at how to harness the Abraham Accords and cooperation in Southeastern Europe and really see a wave of agri-tech development.”
Southeastern European ministers and officials participating in the conference included: Mr. Lachezar Borisov, Economy Minister, Bulgaria; Ms. Desislava Taneva, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Bulgaria; Mr. Vassil Groudev, Executive Director, Bulgaria State Fund Agriculture; Ms. Foteini Arampatzi, Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Food, Greece; Ambassador Panagiotis Sarris, Greece; Mr. Konstantinos Daskalopoulos, First Secretary, Economic and Commercial Affairs, Embassy of Greece; Mr. Tugomir Majdak, State Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Croatia, Mr. Theodoros Karaoglou, Special Minister for Macedonia and Thrace; Mr. Adrian Oros, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Romania; Dr. Jarosław wiek-Karpowicz, Economic & Scientific Counsellor, Embassy of Poland.
The Israeli agri-tech companies heard from the Southeastern European officials about the challenges they face in the agricultural field, focusing mostly on the climate crisis and irrigation. The companies presented their technological developments to great interest from the Southeastern European government representatives. Practical steps to implement these technologies in Southeastern European countries were also discussed.
Israeli companies presenting at the conference were: Agrigo: global EPC-contractor for hi-tech agricultural turnkey solutions in livestock, greenhouses and aquaculture; Gro-fit develops cost-effective smart sensors and software for precision farming, transforming any farm into a smart farm. Roots: Israeli company, publicly traded in Australia - supplies root zone heating & cooling tech; Groundwork BioAg produces highly effective mycorrhizal inoculants for commercial agriculture; AgroScout (using drones for early-stage detection of crop diseases); Adama (development of crop protection solutions).
IMPROVATE CEO, Ronit Hassin-Hochman: “The conference presented countless opportunities for cooperation between Israeli companies and the countries of Southeastern Europe. We had the opportunity to hear ministers from these countries tell Israelis that they are very much looking forward to doing business with them, and I am sure that very soon we will hear how words have turned into deeds and into business deals.”
Economy Minister, Bulgaria, Mr. Lachezar Borisov said that innovation and agriculture are the two most important sectors of the economy in these times of uncertainty: "Israel is one of our largest partners and we must continue to work together.”
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Bulgaria, Ms. Desislava Tanevan said that her country was working on the digitization of agriculture in all respects in order to increase competitiveness among farmers who do not have a marketing orientation: "This is a big challenge, especially finding partners for these projects. We are very happy to find partners in Israel, especially in the field of irrigation, and we want to give farmers the options to choose technological tools according to their needs."
Executive Director, Bulgaria State Fund Agriculture, Mr. Vassil Groudev: “I can see two ways to develop a partnership with the state fund: one - Israeli companies that want to invest in Bulgarian agriculture, and the other - presenting Israeli infrastructure to Bulgarian farmers, and if they want, then the investment fund will invest in the purchase of infrastructure. We support 700 Bio-Security projects.”
Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Food, Greece, Ms. Foteini Arampatzi said that the coronavirus has impacted people’s incomes and unemployment: "There is no doubt that even here, in Greece, the pandemic has left its mark on agriculture. However, it has created opportunities for cooperation.”
First Secretary, Economic and Commercial Affairs, Embassy of Greece, Mr. Konstantinos Daskalopoulos: “We have removed obstacles, for the benefit of anyone who wants to do business with Greek companies today. Anyone can join forces with a Greek venture and receive funding from the Greek government. We call on Israeli startups to help us.”
State Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Croatia, Mr. Tugomir Majdak: “In Croatia we face many challenges in the local agricultural sector, especially with regard to increasing productivity in the shadow of climate change. We have invested great effort in increasing competition and encouraging innovation in the agri-food sector. It is important for us to strengthen the resilience of our agriculture sector in light of climate change. The Israeli experience together with our companies is essential for irrigation systems in the country.”
Secretary of State, Romania, Mr. George Stefan: “In Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, we are dealing with the consequences of global warming and its effects on agriculture. We must change our thinking and the way we do agriculture. Water and irrigation have become major challenges in our countries. We want to learn from the Israeli experience, as global warming will continue to be one of our key challenges, and its effects have been compounded by the coronavirus crisis”
IMPROVATE was launched in September and its vision is to make innovation and technology accessible to all. IMPROVATE operates out of London and Tel Aviv and serves as a platform to connect between leaders and decision makers on the one hand and companies and investors on the other, through international conferences, business delegations and deals between governments and companies.