Speeches Shim

Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Farmer shows the products of his harvest

The USAID Agricultural Growth and Rural Opportunities activity facilitated, together with the American Chamber of Commerce, a virtual discussion on agricultural entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology, as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week.  This live-streamed session outlined the progress made over the past decade in agribusiness development and the role of science and technology in this progress.  Panelists included agribusiness investor, Armend Skeja; CEO of Biotech Agriculture, Endrit Ahmeti; and co-owner of the blueberry farm Sante Fruit, Yll Hoxha.

Each of the panelists underscored the importance of technology in the future of agriculture, including technological solutions for irrigation and management of crop nutrition and pest and disease management.  During the discussion, Armend Skeja emphasized that “without technology, we are not utilizing everything we can in agriculture.”  The panelists described the utility of weather stations and surveying with drones, as well as the need to access and adopt the most up-to-date technologies in order to stay competitive in local and international markets.  

All panelists emphasized the strong potential for youth employment in the agricultural sector.  Recent graduate and founder of BioTech Agriculture, Endrit Ahmeti, shared his personal experience with the participants.  Endrit founded his company in 2020 after researching and working with engineers to create a phone-controlled, smart irrigation system.  He was inspired to find a technological solution to the high costs of irrigation after a university trip to the blueberry farm of another panelist, Yll Hoxha.  Endrit’s company is now producing smart greenhouses, which include features such as the easy and automatic control of windows, irrigation, and soil monitoring.  “By applying this technology, a farmer is able to enter the market two weeks earlier and allows them to sell at a higher price.  Thus, families have higher incomes and are more likely to invest in their kids.”  Endrit emphasized that smart, digitally-controlled agriculture can also attract more women and youth to agriculture.

The panel concluded with the panelists highlighting the need for a stronger public-private working relationship to finance and to scale up technological innovations in agriculture.  The audience left with good examples on how to improve their own businesses, and with new local contacts with whom they may continue the dialogue.