Smart agriculture in Ukraine: IT innovations for sustainable farming

Ukrainian start-ups are rushing to stake out the most profitable market niches in the agricultural sector, while venture investors foretell a bright future for agro-technologies, though showing no haste to invest in them. Meanwhile, some agro-corporations are already building their businesses on IT solutions of local developers. So, what is going on in the agtech market – a sector of agricultural technology, which is both new for Ukraine and rather controversial?

The agricultural sector has long remained on the periphery of IT entrepreneurs and venture investors’ attention due to certain skepticism as for agtech, which is traditionally associated with agro-companies owners’ conservatism and low market reach of basic information technologies. However, in 2014, the situation started changing owing to one-off successful projects and growing interest from innovative agro-companies.

It took only one year after the launch for Drone.ua to become the main airborne prospecting provider for Kernel, the largest agro-corporation in the country. Starting in 2015, it uses five quadrocopters and two drones, while forecasting the yield and receiving vegetation indexes and information on evaporation/nitrogen via an IT-solution of the Pixel Solutions start-up.

Created in 2014, Petiole, a “smart” tracker for plant growth, hit the top 20 hot start-ups in 2015 according to CNBC, an American business TV channel.

Although agtech still cannot compete with mainstream niches in a number of top projects, IT entrepreneurs’ interest in the agricultural sector has been growing from year to year. This is caused by an enormous share of the agro-industrial complex in Ukrainian economy. In 2014, the agro-industry became the largest source of the country’s foreign currency earnings. According to the State Fiscal Service, in 2015 Ukraine got $14.5 billion from the food and agricultural products export, which made up 38% of the total exports, while the metallurgical industry was left far behind with its share of 24.8%. Based on the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, in the 2014-2015 seasons Ukraine ranked third among the world’s leaders of grain exports, following the US and the EU.

Also, agtech is attractive for Ukrainian IT entrepreneurs since this is one of the world’s trends and agtech projects are in demand among large agrarian corporations, though sometimes this demand doesn’t get corresponding financial support. In general, local IT entrepreneurs don’t tend to overestimate the current Ukrainian market readiness, often considering the domestic agtech a testing ground.

Source: ukraine-economy.org

Made in Ukraine. TOP-10 of Ukrainian things that attracted international attention.

Grain, steel and sunflower oil have been recognized as the most famous goods of Ukrainian exports for centuries, but recently Ukraine’s reputation in the international arena has been growing thanks to outstanding achievements in information technology, high fashion, aviation, architecture and design.

1. Unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Kiev company Drone.ua produces drones, which are sold in Ukraine and Europe, and established a joint venture in Lithuania called “UAV.tools” to distribute its own technologies in 15 European countries. Soon the company will open its offices in the UK and Moldova and plans to enter the markets of South Africa and South America.

2. Planes.

The Ukrainian aviation industry has a long history of building huge aircraft, such as Mriya and AN, and also designing much smaller devices for a specific purpose. The airplanes of the company “Aeroprakt” are used by tour operators and rescuers in Singapore to monitor the coastline, British and Danish pilots with their help conduct training flights, and Australians extinguish fires. The company “Aeroprakt” has its own representative offices in 40 countries of the world.

3. Detectors of radiation.

After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011, the global demand for devices for measuring radiation significantly increased. The Ukrainian company “Ecotest” took this opportunity to export radiation detectors of its own production to 70 countries of the world. “Ecotest” has also developed a new Svg-3 Radiacmeter for the German company Bruker, which will soon be used by European defense agencies and NATO.

4. Software.

Petcube” is a Ukrainian startup that allows you to play with your dog or cat when you are not at home. Using the program installed on your smartphone, you can see and communicate with your pets and even play with them using an installed laser. In 2014 Europas named Petcube the best hardware of the year.

5. IT products.

Ukrainian IT-development and consulting are also on the rise. Lviv and Kharkiv have their own IT clusters, and some Ukrainian companies have offices abroad. For example, Softserve has offices around the world and develops centers in Eastern Europe. The company has developed the Biolock system, which allows you to constantly monitor the status of the driver while driving.

6. Kayaks and boats.

The Ukrainian company Borika produces components of boats and kayaks and sells them mainly to Germany. Also the company cooperates with the Italian manufacturer of waterproof covers for cell phones. But boats from the company Brig even filmed in Hollywood blockbusters.

7. Modern architecture.

Ukrainian constructivism of the early twentieth century has its own response in Ukrainian modern architecture and design. For example, the Studio of Sergei Makhno performs projects in Portugal, Georgia, Germany, Monaco and France. In particular, the studio has already completed 360 projects in 16 countries and plans to open an office in London this year.

8. Fashion.

Fashion magazine Vogue has several times shown on its pages traditional Ukrainian costumes. The photo of the Princess of Denmark in embroidered by the Ukrainian company Vareniki was published, and Hollywood stars posed in dresses from Olena Dats, which has its own stores not only in Ukraine, but also in Paris, Los Angeles and Dubai.

9. Books.

The publishing sector of Ukraine demonstrates success due to the growing demand for Ukrainian literature. For example, the Ukrainian publishing house “Factor” printed 40 thousand German-language books for children in Austria.

10. Filters for water treatment.

Scientific potential is a key tool for Ecosoft, the Ukrainian filter manufacturer, to enter global markets.

Source: business-in-ukraine.online