Israeli Agri-Tech Innovation for Africa
Volcani International Partnerships US and Y Combinator-backed Releaf sign LOI to drive prosperity across Africa through Israeli agricultural innovation
For release on 31 st May 2022
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Releaf Inc. and Volcani International Partnerships US, Inc. (VIP US) will be joining forces to address African food security challenges using Israeli expertise and innovation alongside deep African market intelligence and investment.
The partnership seeks to create a seamless transfer of Israeli agricultural experience, expertise, technologies and innovation to produce sustainable and commercial results across Africa by partnering with a firm that brings capital, commercialization expertise and a sophisticated in field Research and Development team.
Releaf will identify significant challenges impacting key agricultural value chains and work with VIP US to implement Israeli expertise and pilot Israeli agricultural technologies and cutting-edge innovations in the field. The value chains will be selected by Releaf based on the supply chain technology company’s market intelligence.
This also announces Releaf’s expansion into Cassava off the back of the tremendous success of their Oil Palm technology, Kraken. The first project between the partners will be to optimize the cassava value chain. The partners will focus on the development, piloting and adaptation of Israeli technologies to significantly extend the shelf-life of cassava. Today, Cassava’s economic and industrial potential is severely limited by its short shelf-life – just 2 to 3 days.
Cassava is the 2nd most consumed starch in West Africa, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people & one of the most inefficient crops with post harvest losses of above 30%. It is however still poised to provide the wheat alternative across Africa in not only the short term during global supply chain shocks, following the sky-rocketing wheat prices due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict & India’s recent wheat ban, but also in the long term as Africa aims for food security. Therefore, the urgency of this partnership can not be overstated.
“Overcoming conditions of great adversity, Israel not only built a thriving agricultural sector but has emerged as a global leader of agri-technology. It is our hope that by working with Releaf, we can ensure Israeli innovations are implemented effectively, contributing to an agricultural transformation across Africa,” stated Lord Stuart Polak, a Board Member of VIP US
Speaking on the partnership, Releaf’s Chief Technology Officer, Uzoma Ayogu, believes the collaboration between Releaf and VIP US will accelerate the mission of industrializing food processing in Africa, especially after Releaf’s success inventing processing technology for the Oil palm industry.
“Releaf has done the work of completely owning the R&D & IP creation process for our first crop in oil palm - after 2 years of intense R&D we delivered Kraken V1 which has grown on average 25% Month over Month for 17 months. In order to accelerate our contribution to industrializing food processing in Africa, Releaf will increasingly partner to bring commercial technology to market.
“There is no better partner globally when it comes to agricultural innovation than VIP US and we are excited to transform agricultural supply chains alongside them starting in Cassava,” Ayogu remarked.
Both Releaf and VIP US hope this will be a stepping stone for more collaboration as well as a path for the ecosystems to collaborate on a similar framework in other sectors.
“I am excited by the potential for continued partnership with VIP US and thank our Israeli Investors for connecting us & supporting the facilitation of this partnership. I also hope this will set a precedent in other sectors for greater collaboration between these two resilient, complimentary, and purposeful ecosystems,” Ayogu said.
"Expertise has always been the cornerstone of the Israeli agricultural model. Indeed, what makes Israeli innovations so effective is not simply their technical performance, but the fact that experts adapt them perfectly to the needs of Israeli farmers. We are, therefore, delighted to work with Releaf: a company that has demonstrated its ability to create cutting-edge technologies
perfectly adapted to the needs of West African farmers. That's what we want to do here: not
just share Israeli innovations, but create Israeli innovations for Africa." Danielle Abraham,
Director of VIP US.
Agriculture is an important driver for inclusive and sustainable economic development in Africa. Innovative technologies and Israel’s proprietary expertise can catalyze agricultural productivity and profitability. This Letter Of Intent is being signed against an exciting backdrop of growing ties between Israel and Africa and increased diplomatic efforts as demonstrated by the “Israel Back in Africa? Challenges & Opportunities” Conference hosted by the Israeli Embassy in Paris & The AJC in Paris.
Volcani International Partnerships US, Inc (VIP US) is a not-for-profit organization that tackles global food and nutrition insecurity throughout the world by sharing Israel’s world-class agricultural experience, expertise and technologies. VIP expands the reach and impact of Israeli agricultural expertise through advisory services, training, technology transfer and bespoke projects.
Releaf Inc. is a supply chain technology company that helps Fast Moving Consumer Goods Companies (FMCGs) in Africa get high quality inputs cheaper by localizing food processing technology in farming clusters to increase quality, reduce logistic costs, and create more value for farmers, primary processors & FMCGs. Releaf’s investors include Y Combinator, Future Africa, Stephen Pagliuca (Co-Chairman of Bain capital) & Jeff Ubben (Inclusive Capital Partners Chairman). In 2021, Releaf was awarded first runner-up in Jack Ma’s Africa Business Heroes competition with over 20,000 applicants. Releaf also won Techpoint’s Agritech startup of the year. Kraken, Releaf's proprietary technology, received an honorable mention in Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards in the Developing World Technology category.