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Crop Protection. Post Harvest. Market Linkages. in Ethiopia.
Innovation Journey is matching Israeli technology with the small-scale farmer market in Ethiopia

About us

The Innovation Journey (IJ) program is an opportunity for cutting edge Israeli ag-tech companies and Ethiopian agriculture ecosystem stakeholders to engage with one another and explore partnerships for piloting innovative technologies, with the goal of bringing value to Ethiopia’s agriculture market and small/medium-scale farmers.

Selected Israeli companies will have the opportunity to:

  • LEARN about the agricultural ecosystem in Ethiopia and in emerging markets.

  • EXPLORE the specific market of small and medium-scale farmers.

  • DESIGN business models that are adjusted to the “Base of the Pyramid”

  • ENGAGE in dialogue with relevant partners in the field that are interested in collaborations 

  • RECEIVE a grant of $25K to initiate a partnership and pilot

For  Ethiopian counterparts, who choose to engage in the program, we offer:

    relevant innovative technologies 

  • ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS through the incorporation of new technologies as part of your operations

  • LEARN how to work with
    Israeli tech companies

  • ENGAGE in dialogue with relevant partners in the field that are interested in collaborations 

  • RECEIVE a grant of $25K to initiate a partnership

Our overall goal is to open the door of the Ethiopian market to Israeli tech companies and unlock the advantages generated by innovative technologies, specifically in regards to SDGs related to small and medium scale farmers in the country.

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The IJ, existing since 2019, has conducted three successful past cohorts – two in Ethiopia and one in South Africa, The program is led by the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), the world's leading Jewish humanitarian organization, in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry.


Pears Program for Global Innovation, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, dedicated to bridging between Israel’s innovation ecosystem and the needs of low and middle-income countries, serves as the Innovation Journey’s  professional content and execution partner.

The selected Focus Topics

Every cohort of the Innovation Journey focuses on sub-sectors that enable more efficient matchmaking and increase probability for a successful collaboration.


Crop protection

Crop protection is defined as a set of strategies and measures employed to safeguard crops from threats of pests, disease, weeds and environmental stressors, throughout the plant’s whole growing cycle. It is a major challenge for farmers in Ethiopia, as lacking quality inputs, inadequate pest control techniques, and outdated technologies cause major crop loss – as high as 27% of grains and 23% of crops annually. In addition, 82% of the 400 registered pesticide products in Ethiopia belong to the WHO hazardous classes, 52% of them classified as moderate to extremely hazardous and pose health risk to the farmers and consumers, while making them unfit for export.

In 2021, the Ethiopian government embarked on a ten-year economic development plan (2021-2030) putting agriculture as a top priority, emphasizing crop protection within it as a measure to drive up productivity. The plan focuses on minimizing loss and costs, and promoting agricultural export and digitalizing the sector’s supply chain. This, along with the increased digitalization the market is going through, opens the door for innovation and acceptance of solutions that were considered out of scope up until now.

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Relevant solutions include: 

  1. Resilience to environmental stressors

  2. Weather intelligence

  3. Optimized Pesticide Spraying

  4. Pest and disease detection, monitoring systems and pest management

  5. BioTech pest solutions

  6. Plant-based crop protection

Crop protection

Post Harvest

Post-harvest management refers to the set of practices and processes taking place after crops are harvested and before they reach the consumer or market. Farmers in Ethiopia lack storing, handling, packaging and processing technologies, which puts them at the mercy of traders by limiting their bargaining power. Empowering stakeholders throughout the value chain with agtech solutions to manage picked produce and to prevent crop loss would enhance food security and revenue in the sector. Moreover, preserving the quality and shelf life of produce may unlock additional export avenues, which offers a great opportunity as agricultural produce already accounts for 90% of export in Ethiopia.


Given that the Government of Ethiopia puts great emphasis on enhancing the value of the agricultural produce in the country through its connection to industrial activity and processing, post harvest plays a major role in the plan. The government works to support these efforts by improving the agricultural sector infrastructure and connectedness, among other things, developing roads, water, energy and logistic systems to support production and access to markets; creating a legal framework for crop insurance, streamlining the business licensing requirements, and removing tariff barriers to international trade. Although most of this is still in progress, the plan shows the general intent and emphasis the sector receives in the overall government strategy.

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Relevant solutions include: 

  1. Storage and cold chain management

  2. Extending shelf life

  3. Processing

  4. Packaging  

  5. Quality assurance and monitoring 

  6. Transportation

Post Harvest

Market linkages

Market linkage is the connection between the farmer and the customer or the offtaker which is made through a chain of different stakeholders. With 12 million smallholder farming households, the Ethiopian market faces challenges such as lack of aggregated price information, limited direct market access to buyers and producers, and limited access to farmer information, which fragments the system and limits the farmers’ revenue potential.

The Ethiopian government selected this topic as one of the key components of the “Digital Ethiopia Plan 2025” and promotes both national and international investment in this growing field. It highlights that building a digital agricultural platform where all services, data, and communication are digital, starts with supporting agtech entrepreneurship and private sector stakeholders capable of facilitating this change. It also notes the reforming of the telecom sector to widen network access and incorporate digital tools to streamline agricultural production and supply chain efficiency and communication.

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Relevant solutions include: 

  1. Online marketplaces and digital trading

  2. Crop management and quality control

  3. Mapping local food and farming systems

  4. Collaboration between value chain players

  5. Supply chain planning and management

Market linkages

Why Ethiopia?

The Ethiopian economy is one of the fastest growing markets in Africa, with an annual growth rate of almost 10% before 2020 and 5.5%  in recent years (compared to a 4.3% regional growth average), while battling global pandemic and significant internal conflict realities.


Agriculture contributes to 41% of the GDP, 90% of exports, and is the main occupation of 80% of the population with small and medium-scale farmers accounting for 90% of the producers (12 million households). The sector is projected to grow at 6.2% per annum over the next ten years and the government has identified agro-industrialization as the key to the growth of the sector, seeking to enhance its value by providing small and medium-scale farmers with tools to improve the quality and quantity of their yield, and access formal markets.


At the same time, government and international investment is expected to grow –especially in digitalization and farm-related services – bringing the private sector into the picture and improving the efficiency and pace of agri-industrialization.

All of this makes Ethiopia a strong business case for agtech companies. Although it holds substantial risk and barriers, a successful intervention in any stage of the value chain has the potential of tapping into a huge market while creating a significant impact.

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Why Israel?

Israel’s agriculture has impressed the world since it first began to “make the desert bloom” in the 1950s. Despite an unconducive climate, limited arable land mass, and relative water scarcity,


Israel produces 95% of its own food and exports high-quality produce around the world. Technological progress is one of the 3 main drivers of the Israeli agriculture market, which is expected to reach USD 8.30 billion by 2028 (currently at 6.61 billion).


About 500 Israeli Ag-Tech startups operate in Israel, tackling diverse challenges by using a wide range of methods: Artificial intelligence, drones and robotics, data collection and analysis, plant monitoring and many more. 

Thanks to its strong connection between academia and industry and vast investment in R&D, Israel is a leader for precision agriculture, smart irrigation, resistant seed development, pollination, fertilization, pest control, crop and soil monitoring, post harvest management and more.


Significant international experience of Agtech companies and strat-ups around the world, develops adaptability and creativity: fertile land for finding the right product-market fit.

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The Process

The IJ program is designed to facilitate mutual exposure and exploration of joint ventures based on a thorough understanding of the needs and realities on the ground in Ethiopia.


Understanding the needs of our Ethiopia-based stakeholders:

We always start with understanding what is needed on the ground. The cohort of  Israeli companies will be constructed according to the needs and interests of our Ethiopian local stakeholders, to ensure maximal chances for a match for partnership.

- preliminary process

Capacity building:

We build the capacity of both sides to engage and understand each other, in order to make sure that once preliminary interest is created, both parties have the tools necessary for implementation. This part includes teaching the Israeli companies about the Ethiopian context, helping adapt their products and business models, and providing Ethiopian stakeholders with the capacity to understand their Israeli counterparts.

- 2 weeks


The program uses multiple methodologies for gradual and facilitated exposure of the Israeli and Ethiopian counterparts to one another, in order to ensure a seamless and efficient process. The matchmaking starts with the involvement of the program’s Ethiopian counterparts in the selection of the Israeli participants, and concludes with joint applications for the $25K grant, which opens an opportunity for deep acquaintance and trust building.


Although we encourage Israeli and Ethiopian counterparts to put funding questions aside during initial discussions, we do make sure the issue is addressed, as we acknowledge it is a crucial part for the success of the partnership. In addition to applying for our $25K grant, participants  receive fundraising mentorship to help them analyze the various potential funding opportunities for their joint venture.

Our Grant

אייקון בקשת מענק

In addition to non-monetary benefits the program offers to its participants, the JDC will be providing TWO grants of $25K to help the two best partnerships launch their activity and possibly secure additional funding. Once the parties are matched and partnership discussions are underway, the partnership members will have the opportunity to apply for the grant, according to a carefully designed process. A committee of experts will award grants to  the two applications answering the criteria in the most optimal way. 

Eligibility to participate in the Innovation Journey

For Israeli companies

  • A registered company in Israel

  • A company with a technological proof of concept and existing sales in at least one market 

  • Interest in adjusting their product to the needs of  the small-scale farmer market in Ethiopia

For Ethiopian stakeholders

  • Existing activity in Ethiopia with small or medium scale farmers for at least 1 year

  • Activity or relevance to one of our selected Focus Topics (crop protection, post-harvest, market linkages)

  • Openness for technological dialogue with an Israeli innovation partner

  • Ability to conduct pilot or collaborate in case there is a match

  • Availability to go through the program’s matchmaking process (4-6 hours spread over 3-4 months), with an adequate point of contact with relevant expertise to manage communication during the program.

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Chromepay - “The Innovation Journey was a significant and consequential process that helped us to understand the potential of the Ethiopian market, providing a lot of critical tools and opening important doors to new customers and partners. Thanks to the program we understood how to work with the market, connected with some key partners to work with, and were able to build a strong team on the ground. Today Ethiopia is a market for our operations and we are running a pilot with iDE, a partner we met in the Innovation Journey, to digitize and create access to credit for farmers".

SoliDrip “Before the Innovation Journey, SoliDrip targeted developed markets like Europe, North America, and Asia and provided solutions to enhance urban greening in the built environment.  Through the Innovation Journey, we realized that our products could have additional settings, significantly impacting small-scale farmers in South Africa's urban areas. With the fantastic partner we met in the program, the tools we received for market adaptation, and the JDC grant we received, we had everything we needed to pilot the technology and make it work for the local people”.

Organizing partners

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Ministry of Economy
and Industry of Israel

promotes trade between Israel and countries around the world. It supports Israeli companies in their business operation to provide solutions to the challenges of low- and middle income countries. The strategic partnership with the Israel Economic Ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration and JDC is actively seeking to deepen Israel’s impact on the “base of the pyramid” in Africa.

The Joint Logo

The world's leading Jewish humanitarian organization. With over decades of experience in low- and middle-income countries in various development programs, the JDC took the initiative to harness Israeli innovation and expertise to improve the well-being of small-scale farmers living in low- and middle-income countries.

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Pears Program for Global Innovation
a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization whose mandate is  to increase Israel’s contribution to international development and humanitarian aid through technology-based  innovation and financially sustainable solutions. By building bridges to the needs, opportunities, and people of the  developing world, the Pears Program hopes to enable Israeli entrepreneurs and innovations to play a larger role in  addressing the most pressing challenges of our time: ensuring water, food, clean energy, education and healthcare  for all.

Contact Info:

Lior Refael


Yonatan Bukhdruker

Pears Program for Global Innovation

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