EthiopiaEthiopia, a country of 92 million, has over 80% of its population employed in the agricultural sector, mainly as smallholding farmers, while industrial farming is in its budding stages. This large number of small holding farmers who heavily rely on rainfall is extremely susceptible to drought and food insecurity. Meanwhile, Ethiopia has the highest number of bee colonies and surplus honey sources of flora in the world (Gidey and Mekonen, 2010). The Ethiopian team recognizes the possibilities for a thriving apiculture sector in Ethiopia and wants to explore the existing systems of honey production and its value chain. But the team also recognizes the gap hindering smallholder farmers to integrate and make use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). So they want to make a significant contribution in closing the gaps between ICT and apiculture in combination with private sector business development methodologies.

Challenges and realities

A solid first needs assessment phase, including several repeated site-visits and well prepared target group interviews conducted by a team of interviewers with representative stakeholders from farmer level up to cooperatives, advisory services and buyers / consumers has taken place and led to the formulation of a few main challenges that focus the continued innovation process:

First of all, the lack of availability of value-adding equipment, such as extraction machines, wax casting mold, queen excluder and other equipment is rarely available and thus reduces the potential of modern hives and bee keeping methods. Further, there is low market accessibility and knowledge sharing as regards honey marketing strategies. Farmers have limited access to market intelligence like price structures and sales channels and need to make sales decisions based on their own intuition. Also challenging is the low awareness of the high market potential of honey products. Only around 20% of farmers are engaged in honey production and even those are not taking advantage of the full potential of beekeeping in Ethiopia as they lack information to boost value, quality and quantity.

The Ethiopian experts have also observed some systemic risks or obstacles for their approach. So organizational systems are already in place but not optimized. The extension worker and model farmer system offers high potential but could be optimized in terms of efficiency of information flow, training effectiveness and accountability. Training all farmers in an adequate way remains a challenge. The collection and selling of honey is not organized or coordinated among and across the individual farmers. This lack of unification and utilization of synergies among the actors within the value chain is also based on the fact that single farmers are having low production volumes, low quality-, packaging- and marketingknowledge and thus reduced sales potential. And finally it would be a costly process to coordinate the beekeepers. Since farmers are living in dispersed locations and coordination is mostly based on face-to-face communication, the coordination efficiency is low.

Honey or money!

The Ethiopian network developed three idea drafts, which are firmly based on and derived from the local needs established through the needs assessment. The ideas at first appearance rather represent the bundling of needs and demands into info portal & service centre functionality, as well as the transfer of internationally well established technologies and concepts unto the situation of the local honey producers. But in reality, the approach allows for a focused yet flexibly adaptable further iterative development and testing over the next few months by the involved partners to arrive at a unique configuration and design, optimized to the intended target groups and usage context that have the potential of adding clear benefits to the local small-scale honey producers.

One example of these prototype ideas goes under the working title “Honey or Money – crowd funding for Ethiopian honey producers“. The aim is to test a financial model based on crowd funding that enables local beekeepers to purchase shared bee-keeping and honey processing equipment. The IF team has identified crowd funding as an instrument that is suitable for interventions on small-scale level. Through a crowd funding campaign, beekeepers are able to access an international market, which helps them to finance their investment in technological development. Besides the more immediate financing opportunities, this instrument provides other benefits for the beekeepers, such as improved branding, media coverage and logistics.

To find out more about the projects, click on the flags below.

Ethiopia ICT4agriculture Ethiopia

ICT Entrepreneurship and the Honey Value Chain in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Innovation Factory team has examined indepth all stages of the honey production value chain and their related stakeholders with the intent of identifying potentially fruitful challenges of technology-based interventions. The team intends to both support the further development of existing apicultural techniques and traditions, but also to involve the private sector in bolstering of the honey value chain by developing a new ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation around the value chain in order to facilitate the sustainable development of context appropriate ICT solutions for the Ethiopian honey production sector.... Read more...

Germany ICT4agriculture Germany

Low-tech for community supported agriculture in Germany
The German country unit of the Innovation Factory programme has chosen to focus on the growing movement of a variety of small groups of citizens who aim to organize local and regional food self sufficiency. Under the terms of Urban Gardening, Transition Town or Community-Supported Agriculture, people with and without an agricultural background gather to realize a “non-industrial and marketneutral” agriculture. In this form of alternative agriculture, the use of large-scale machinery and industrial production processes is not wanted and often not financially feasible.... Read more...

Indonesia ICT4agriculture Indonesia

Indigenous Culture and Rural Techies in Indonesia
While the recent large-scale introduction of new affordable and accessible ICT hardware and software solutions to most economic sectors across the globe promise benefits of prospering economies and rapid societal development, they also carry with them a great risk of destroying prevailing cultural and social structures and thereby pose athreat especially to the continued existence of vulnerable indigenous cultures and traditional rural communities in developing countries. What have made ICTs especially prevalent and interesting recently are their dramatically increased afffordability, accessibility, and adaptability, most notably considering the boom of mobile communication devices and networks. ... Read more...

Senegal ICT4agriculture Senegal

Youth, ICT & Agribusiness in Senegal
Although agriculture is commonly predicted to remain the dominant sector to sustain economic growth in Africa for the coming decades, offering a vast array of business opportunities and sources of income for local youth, large amounts of young Africans still chose to leave their families’ rural farms in search for uncertain success in the city. On the other hand, young urban professionals from the IT- and related tech-sectors have still not been sensitized to the great need of technological innovations in agriculture and food-production. To bridge these awareness and knowledge gaps, a community of young people in the Senegalese town of Thiès had the idea to establish an agricultural technology innovation hub named “Yesaal Agrihub” as a focal point for IT-based technological innovation within the Senegalese agribusiness scene. Read more...


  • Key persons are ready to engage in the innovation factory
  • Competences in project planning and implementation are improved
  • Learn from one another
  • Organisational, financial and human resource requirements are available
  • Self organisation
  • Joint project planning