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CTA awards Ethiopia’s digital agriculture start-ups

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Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa, founders of Debo Engineering, won the Pre-revenue category

© iceaddis

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In partnership with GIZ and iceaddis, and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, CTA recently awarded six Ethiopian start-ups at the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 (GIAS2019) competition.

Held in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, in November 2019, GIAS2019 is run under CTA's AgriTech Movers project, which aims to identify and support young Ethiopian agripreneurs using ICTs and digital technologies to help them achieve business growth. The competition included a Pitch AgriHack award category to specifically target entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 who could demonstrate an innovative digital solution for the agricultural sector.

The application process had two phases – firstly, GIAS2019 applications were shortlisted by independent technical experts who conducted due diligence to verify proposed innovations. The shortlisted applicants then pitched in front of an independent and multi-disciplinary panel of judges using a format adapted from CTA’s Pitch AgriHack initiative. Out of 30 start-ups mentored by iceaddis, the Pitch AgriHack category awarded six winners:

Pre-revenue category

  1. Debo Engineering: Founded by young engineers, Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa, Debo Engineering has developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant diseases through image detection. The digital solution can be accessed via mobile phones or through the web. The Debo Engineering team has also developed drone technologies with the capability of early disease detection on large commercial farms.
  2. Awesome Africa: Led by the young female entrepreneur Mearaf Tadewos, Awesome Africa is bringing permaculture practice to the Ethiopian agriculture sector. Through an easy to use mobile app that integrates local languages, Awesome Africa provides training to farmers and producers on permaculture. The app aims to help producers achieve higher yields to increase their incomes, and includes a market linkage feature.
  3. Yerras Gebeya: Yerras Gebeya is an online animal exchange platform, which integrates agri-tech, fin-tech and e-commerce to allow the sourcing of live animals directly from the farmer. This modern e-marketing platform catalogues healthy and quality livestock for sale, catering for a majority of the vibrant livestock market in Ethiopia. Yerras Gebeya was founded by six enthusiastic youths brought up in the same farming community.

Post-revenue category

  1. Mesafint Alebel Technology Manufacturing: Combining solar power with automated irrigation technology, Mesafint Alebel Technology Manufacturing’s innovation draws surface and underground water to supply smallholder farms water for irrigation or consumption. The technology uses 2 KW electricity to provide up to 180L clean drinking water per day. The innovator, Mesafint Alebel, uses electronic waste as an input, recycled and customised to fit the purpose.
  2. GebeyaNet Technologies S.C: GebeyaNet is a web and mobile-based platform that endeavors to formulate a fresh produce sustainable supply chain between farmers and buyers with an integrated logistical service. The e-commerce platform also features mobile payments to better link fresh vegetable farmers to markets.
  3. Kedame Gebeya Commerce and Logistics: To help address Ethiopia’s market inefficiencies, Kedame Gebeya Commerce and Logistics runs an ecommerce platform that provides an honest and fair online marketplace to connect producers directly with buyers. The developers, Getaneh Shambel and Bayech Degfe, are passionate about solving problems for local producers.

GIZ has also awarded Ethiopian start-ups on the following value chains: wheat, honey and legumes.

Accelerating success

The start-ups have joined an acceleration programme at iceaddis, the Pitch Agrihack Challenge winners will travel to Germany to visit trade fairs, exhibitions and industries, and attend additional skills training. The exposure visits will create linkages between the Ethiopian start-ups and relevant stakeholders in Germany and other emerging markets. Each start-up is matched with a list of networking events provided by GIZ.

As a continuation of the GIAS2019 event, CTA’s AgriTech Movers Ethiopia Forum was also held in November 2019. Launched by Michael Hailu, CTA Director, the Forum featured panel discussions among prominent figures in the Ethiopian start-up and agricultural scene, and discussed the local ecosystem for agribusiness and digital agriculture in Ethiopia.

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