The Circular Innovation process starts with a problem of one, which we must generalize to solve; hence, the solution is for many plus the one.
Remember, you offer a solution to many by solving your problem using scalable tools.
THE AGROCHEMICAL COMPANIES
If you think I've always thought and cared about all farmers, mainly smallholders in emerging economies, you're wrong. I developed this interest bit by bit over time as I faced the challenges of other farmers.
In 1988 I completed my military service duty, and finally, I was a citizen, on my own, with no plans for the future other than the around-the-glob trip in the next year.
Meanwhile, I returned to my Kibbutz and began working again in agriculture. I was in charge of several topics in the orchards, including crop protection, so I cared about crop protection in my orchards.
Those orchards were managed industrially and professionally under intensive irrigation, fertilizing, and crop protection regimes.
How intense was the crop protection?
Very intensive, 25 to 50 sprays per hectare per year.
In those years, it wasn’t unique; everybody admired "the infinite wisdom" of the agrochemical companies and rushed to buy and spray whatever they told us to buy and spray.
Whenever there was a crop protection crisis, and there were many, which is why we sprayed so much, we related it to “the infinite stupidity” of farmers.
In those days, we, farmers, worship the agrochemical companies. Everybody was happy; they sold us tons of chemicals, and we paid, sprayed, and then again paid, sprayed, in an unending cycle.
It was a perfect world for the agrochemical companies and those of us (farmers) who choose to believe, "For every problem, there is or will be a chemical to solve it.”
I continued farming. Months and then years passed, and I got a reputation as an IPM crop protection and pesticide spraying expert. I gave lectures about this and published some papers.
When everybody thinks that sprays are the best thing humanity created, and you dare to doubt it, you become “a troublemaker.”
Well, as they say: “If you say what everybody else thinks, you are redundant.”
When I began noticing discrepancies between what the pesticide companies promise and what they practically do and deliver, I began developing growing concerns about the competence of the “experts” of those companies.
I realized that those pesticides were created by people like myself, ordinary scientists, engineers, and business people.
Those people and companies created solutions to crop protection that corresponded with their passion and vision, a vision where “scientific” made chemicals, i.e., pesticides, solve all problems on Earth.
I never agreed with the pesticide spraying approach and its risk to humans, non-target organisms, and the environment.
Furthermore, although I excelled in spraying, I thought the use of pesticides was inconvenient, and the results were far overrated.
Finally, it dawned on me that the people at the agrochemical companies will forever develop pest control solutions for the kind of world they view, i.e., filled with expensive, poisonous chemicals.
BUT what IF my vision was of a greener world, where farmers don’t spray but profit more by selling eco-friendly, healthy produce to consumers who gladly pay more for the higher quality?
THEN I should do what it takes to achieve this dream, as no one else will fulfill my dream and vision.
Regardless of my lack of knowledge, resources, and experience as a Kibbutz farmer, I embarked on a challenging journey to obtain the zero crop protection solution I longed for, beginning with the most globally complex group of pests, fruit flies.
I understood that by solving “my problem,” I would solve the problem of many. But first thing first, I had to begin by solving “my problem.”
My journey began with 14 years of study and research in the academy, a Ph.D. in agriculture (ecological entomology), and 14 more years of R&D after establishing the Biofeed company to develop the solution I defined.
By 2018 I was the only one on the planet to hold a field-tested and results-proven solution, the Freedome, for a zero-spray control method of six of the top fruit flies in the world, including the #1, Bactrocera dorsalis.
As I envisioned, the solution was zero sprays and reduced 99% of infestation compared to any commercial alternative (till today).
The meeting with the PMs of India and Israel, Mr. Modi and Mr. Netanyahu, signaled that singularity moment.
The journey to solve the problem of one farmer gave birth to the Freedome zero-spray crop protection technology, which solved the problem of millions of farmers plus one.
NO TIME TO PARTY
After completing the development of the Freedome technological solution by Biofeed, I was sure it would bring prosperity to millions of farmers across Africa and Asia.
I had no time to party, as farmers (small-hold mango growers in developing economies) didn’t buy the zero-spray solution that decreased sprays by 100% and infestation by 99%.
One option forward was to decrease the price tag. But, I noticed that even when I provided the technology plus the protocol of use free of charge, and even when farmers increased their income by 50% to 500%, they remained in poverty and still didn't have a sustainable way of buying the livelihood game changer technology for next year.
So the problem and the solution was NOT the technology NOR its price.
The problem was that my goal was genuinely to improve farmers’ livelihood.
The greatest challenge on my business path was that I was not ready to give up the above dream by trading it with selling the Freedome breaking through solution only to farmers that had the money to pay upfront in cash for it.
I was looking to help farmers grow healthier produce in a healthier environment for consumers ready to pay premium prices and to do this based on sustainable business principles.
I knew that to solve the problem of Yacuobuo (a mango grower from Togo) and, generally, that of farmers’ poverty; I would need to push “innovation” to its limits.
It would require the development of a complete E2E (end-to-end) concept.
Not more of the same, for the available concepts present colossal failures leading to persistent poverty.
What we need is a Disruptive Innovation model based on three components -
⇒ Ecosystem (Coherent value network)
⇒ Novel Business Model
⇒ Enabling technology
Luckily I already had the Enabling technology, i.e., Freedome, and with little luck and "reverse engineering" of the reasons for farmers' poverty, I could design the two “missing” components, i.e., Novel Business Model and Ecosystem.
But where do I begin?
A good starting point would be to understand WHY Yacuobuo and other farmers suffer poverty and hunger while working hard.
Once again, I embarked on a journey and a quest, this time to solve Yacuobuo’s poverty.
By 2018 the quest for a breaking-through zero-spray crop protection technological solution was replaced with a quest for a novel business model and ecosystem.
The saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention, which created the innovative concept and business model I searched for years.
This was reflected in two main ways -
(a) The 2021 Senegalese national scale pilot doubled Senegal’s mango export to the EU and mango growers’ income within as little as three months.
(b) I established the Dream Valley to scale up that model and bring it to many farmers in developing economies as possible.
The Dream Valley is a dedicated End-2-End complete value chain model (Inputs-Farmer-Consumer) enabling small-hold farmers and professionals in developing economies to market higher quality and quantities of perishable fresh produce to global and local premium markets.
The Dream Valley model is based on the Israeli model and has proven itself in over 100 years of prosperous agriculture. Dream Valley localized, field-tested, and validated it to smallholders in Africa and developing economies.
The journey to solve the problem of one farmer, Yacuobuo, gave birth to the Dream Valley model, which solved that of millions of farmers plus one.
Based on the Israeli-tested and successful model, the Dream Valley model enables the best results when farmers work together, e.g., in cooperatives and communities.
It means that the elementary “unit” Dream Valley works with is not “a farmer” but “a community” or its equivalents.
If the elementary unit is a community, then what would be the “mother unit”?
It is THE NATION!
Now we see that to change the life of one smallholder, you need to change the community, and for that to happen, we need a new attitude at the national level.
Does it mean we start by applying the model nationwide?
Not at all.
We begin applying the Dream Valley model on a small-scale national model, as we did in Senegal.
Partners in such a program would include, in addition to Dream Valley, a local investor/business person, government officials, an academy rep., and a value chain rep.
I would be glad to talk to you if you find the model and vision of Dream Valley appealing to you and if you like to participate and create your legacy.
If you are unsure whether this is for you, feel free to call and share your fears and doubts.
As a small business with an attitude of a boutique, we have limited capacity. Since all are equal for us, to a large extent, the priority is for those who complete first the compliance check process.
» NOT SURPRISINGLY; our "personal problems" are shared by millions. Solve your problems in a scalable manner, and you solve that of millions.
» THE SOLUTIONS to the most significant challenges, like pesticide use and persistent poverty, begin by understanding the individual's problem and then generalize it to create a solution that would benefit all plus one.
» NEVER FORGET the WHY that motivates you to do what you do, and stick to it.
» THE CHOICE is yours to focus on "ordinary" or fundamental challenges. The second type may lead you to solve Grand Challenges.