blueMoon Gets Seed for Agri-Tech Lab


For the establishment of the Lab, the Danish government pledged 1.1 million dollars




blueMoon launches an innovation laboratory dedicated to growing productivity in the agriculture sector. For its establishment, the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) has pledged 1.1 million dollars.

During the 2018 ICT-Expo held at Millennium Hall, blueMoon – an agribusiness, agri-tech incubator and seed investor – held a signing ceremony for the grant agreement with the Danish Embassy in Addis Abeba attended by Ouba Mohamed, minister of Communication & Information Technology; and Getahun Mekuria (PhD), minister of Science & Technology.

The new laboratory blulab will be established by blueMoon and will apply technology to solve challenges such as meeting growing food demand, especially in urban areas, reduce water scarcity and minimise the adverse effects of climate change, according to Eleni Gabre-Madhin (PhD), founder and CEO of blueMoon.

“Innovations in drones, robotics, sensors, big data, machine learning and blockchain technology can create disruptive change and can lead to the next frontier in agriculture and the agribusiness value chain, including crops, livestock, dairy, fisheries, honey, and agro-forestry,” she says.

Denmark’s development cooperation with Ethiopia started in 2004, and currently covers areas such as peace and security, the fight against poverty, climate change, sustainable agriculture and women’s rights. The Scandinavian country cooperates with partners in Ethiopia to support Ethiopia’s ambition of achieving lower middle-income status by 2025 through green growth and poverty reduction.

It is important to support development in Ethiopia by providing young people with an environment for start-ups to develop the tech-sides of their businesses, according to Peter Fjeldgaard, program officer of Green Economy at the Danish Embassy.

BlueLab’s function will be to optimise learning, experimentation, prototyping, and testing of various innovations and link them to business incubators at blueMoon for commercialisation and scale-up.

“We need to make it easier and cheaper for young people to innovate and experiment with ideas and to have access to cutting-edge technology,” says Shem Asefaw, blueMoon senior partner.

blueMoon was launched a year and a half ago to venture in seed funding, incubation of startups and crowdfunding. blueMoon runs a national competition twice a year and accepts five to 10 start-ups for a four month-program where entrepreneurs will have a place to work and receive training.

BlueLab can play a significant role in the development of the agriculture sector in Ethiopia, according to Ayele Akuma, dean of the Agriculture & Environmental Science at Haramaya University.

“Agriculture is traditional and falls prey to the vagaries of climate. The need for technology-based production of food cannot be underestimated,” says Ayele.

Agriculture supports the majority of the labour force in Ethiopia as well as exports in Ethiopia. In the 2016/17 fiscal year, it made up for over 36pc of the gross domestic product (GDP), having grown by 6.7pc, after rebounding from the El Nino-induced drought two years ago.

Consisting of crop, livestock, forestry and fishery sub-sectors it has been characterised by the low availability of improved seeds and dependence on seasonal rains.



By MADEBO GIRMA
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Jul 07,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 949]


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