IMPROVATE Agriculture and Water discussed the challenges facing the UAE and African nations in ensuring food security in the face of adverse climate conditions, and the opportunities for Israeli companies in these countries.
IMPROVATE Founder and Chair Irina Nevzlin said the Abraham Accords, as well as bringing big changes in the Middle East and strengthening relationships, had brought about an opportunity for countries to cooperate and exchange knowledge and expertise. “As Israel’s landscape is very similar to that of the UAE, including the desert areas, the innovative methods developed for agricultural technology in Israel can be a valuable asset and focal point for partnering with the UAE and other Middle East countries.”
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alon Schuster said Israel’s desert climate and limited natural resources had led it to develop advanced agricultural technologies that today are at the forefront of global development: “The Israeli agricultural sector offers agricultural technologies to increase efficiency and yields, while generating maximum returns in all fields of agriculture, in challenging climate and soil conditions... Fruitful collaboration will enable us to share our experiences with our partners to a desert climate and to a reality of increasing desertification, and to learn together and share our knowledge and experience to create more efficient and sustainable agriculture that will ensure global food security.”
Yesh Atid Chairman and leader of the opposition, MK Yair Lapid addressed the global coronavirus crisis: “When the pandemic is finally over, we will be left with the global economic crisis. The solution to that crisis will be twofold: Technology and cooperation. The countries that innovate, that upgrade, that look forward, and that work together, will surge ahead. Israel is one of those countries, and so is the UAE.”
Former Mossad deputy director, MK Ram Ben Barak said the world needs to look ahead and understand that in some 35 years’ time its current population will double and there is an urgent need to make plans to feed those people: “We need to support agriculture, we need to develop new technologies to get more out of one acre than we do today, and we need to develop use of water, because in the future there could be a day when there is not enough food in the world.”
Senior UAE officials, bankers and investors who participated in the conference said Israeli technologies had much to offer Gulf nations as they seek to increase local food production and ensure food security.
Dr. Kamel Abdallah, Senior managing director and executive board advisor at Vita F&B capital, said that national food security has been a long-term objective for the UAE for many years and that the government’s focus has shifted from availability and affordability to self-sufficiency and local production: “We are investing in companies that can bring technology so that we can bypass the harsh environment so that we can produce food locally. We are looking at different technologies for production in our harsh climate, focusing on reducing water use and building an environment for high yields per hectare.”
Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qasimi, an Emirati royal, businesswoman and philanthropist, said the UAE is heavily invested in food security and is investing in agricultural and water technologies: “With technology you can grow everything. By investing water and time and technology we can really turn things around and make the desert bloom.”
Rahul Kale, Founder and CEO, Sunpower Renewables said urban and vertical farming would play a huge role in making sustainable communities a reality: “With solar storage becoming commercially viable, you can have vertical farming 24/7. I think the advent of solar storage will see a huge uptake in vertical greenery. Our products can add a lot of value to this industry.”
IMPROVATE CEO, Ronit Hasin-Hochman: “Israeli water management and agricultural technologies can provide outstanding solutions for countries around the world. We are very pleased that recent peace agreements enable us to facilitate collaborations across countries and continents.”
Attending the conference from Africa were Mr. Joseph Antoine Kasonga Mukuta, Minister of Agriculture from The Democratic Republic of Congo; Dr Deo-Guide Rurema, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment of Burundi; Mrs. Hadija Jabiri, the Founder and managing director of GBRI business solutions, EATFRESH from Tanzania; Mr. Tom Sillayo, General Manager of Faida Market Link Company, also from Tanzania; Mr. Lazare Ossende-Essanga, Director of Partnerships Promotion and Rural Entrepreneurship at the Gabon National Agricultural Development Agency.
Speaking from the studio in Tel Aviv, His Excellency Job Masima, Ambassador of Tanzania to Israel called on Israeli companies to come to Africa, noting that the continent has a rapidly growing population, is more stable politically than in the past, and that its economy is on the rise, with five out of 10 of the world’s fastest growing economies located in Africa: “Once you come to Africa, you are coming to a vast land that is like all of China, all of the United States and all of Europe, so this is where you should be looking. Thirty percent of the world’s arable land is in Africa. With this arable land we are capable of feeding 9 billion people. Africa is the future global powerhouse, come to Africa.”
Among the companies presenting at the conference was Netafim, which for over 50 years has been a global leader in the advanced agriculture sector, and provides innovative agriculture solutions to millions of farmers, focusing on maximizing yields while saving on water and resources.
Elad Levi,Vice President Middle East & Africa at Netafim said: “I strongly believe that the Middle East presents substantial opportunities for collaborations, with the fundamental purpose to ensure a sustainable and sufficient supply of high-quality fresh food produced within the region. Netafim is an expert in desert farming in the neighborhood… in the Middle East and is willing to leverage this knowledge for the prosperity of the entire region and all its people.”
Agricultural technology and research companies presenting at the conference:
SupPlant is an Israeli Ag-Tech company that translates plants into actionable insights to assist farmers around the world in making the best use of resources, increasing yields and saving water in an unpredictable climate reality.
GES is a veteran player in the water and wastewater treatment market. In its 31 years of activity, GES has successfully completed more than 300 projects in Israel and abroad.
NRGene is a software company, using artificial intelligence to analyze genomic big data, to optimize and accelerate natural breeding of plants and animals used for agricultural uses
AlgaHealth is an Israeli biotech company, harnessing the power of microalgae to deliver life-enhancing ingredients through efficient, controlled, high-quality cultivation that can be established in various geographies.
AlgaHealth set its focus on using microalgae to address the burning issue of obesity and overweight with Nutri-Xanthin™ - an ingredient designed to improve the metabolic effect of new and existing food products.
"We at AlgaHealth believe that the right solution is not to fight our way of life, but to enhance it by matching our nutrition to our lifestyle".
WFI Group comprises four business units, each of which specializes in water treatment from reverse osmosis desalination and removal of inorganic pollutants through to biological wastewater treatment, holistic integration and project management.
WFI creates new value from water to enhance public health and sustainability, shifting the model from economic savings to revenue and growth, using breakthrough technologies and a circular economy approach.
Dana Hubner, VP Business Development, said: “Triple-T by WFI delivers clean, safe and affordable effluent via eco-friendly solutions, simplifying operation, minimizing equipment, labor and sludge, resulting in up to 80% OPEX and energy savings, wastewater autonomy and peace of mind.”
Ramat Negev Desert Agro Research Center is an Agricultural research and development center, specializing in agriculture under desert conditions for over 60 years, in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council.
IMPROVATE is a platform that makes technology and innovation accessible to countries worldwide, with an emphasis on advancing Israeli technologies. Launched in September 2020, IMPROVATE operates out of London and Tel Aviv and connects leaders and decision-makers, and companies and investors with technology and innovation companies. IMPROVATE works through international conferences and business delegations and promotes deals between governments, organizations, and investors with innovation companies. Among IMPROVATE’s Board members are former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, President Rosen Plevneliev – President of Bulgaria from 2010-2017, and IDF Major Gen. (Ret.) Amos Gilad.