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Meet the founder: Green Growth founders discuss why precision agriculture tools need to be simpler for farmers

August 4, 2023

“Any stage in farming — seeding, tillage — is a stressful time. There is no time to sit down and learn a tool,” says Alfiya Kayumova, cofounder of EU-based precision ag startup Green Growth.

Technology tools for agriculture should work at the press of a button, she adds.

She and fellow cofounder Dr. Evgeny Savin address this with Green Growth’s platform that aims to integrate precision agriculture software as simply as possible with farm hardware such as combines and seeders. The Green Growth system collects data from the machines and provides a heat-map in real time to farmers. These farmers can then look at the analytics to make decisions around fertilizers and other inputs.

Kayumova and Savin founded Green Growth in 2021 and have more than 50 contracts with “leading agritech dealers and farmers.”

The company raised $300,000 in pre-seed funding in 2022 from New Nordic Ventures and others.

Below, Kayumova [EK] and Savin [ES] talk to AgFunderNews (AFN) to discuss the benefits their technology brings to farmers, the biggest challenges in agriculture in Europe right now, and what’s next for Green Growth.

Alfiya Kayumova (AK), CEO and cofounder, and Dr. Evgeny Savin (ES), executive director and cofounder, Green Growth. Image credit: Green Growth

AFN: Why did you start Green Growth?

AK: Since childhood, I’ve been involved in agricultural practices. Our family grew vegetables, fruits, different types of crops. When I was something like 12 or 15, I really didn’t like agriculture because I saw how difficult, how unpredictable the industry is, and this is why I decided to go to university. For almost 10 years I’ve been involved in investments and M&A deals.

But I took part in one interesting agricultural project and then came to the idea that it’s a very promising industry. I also started to communicate with farmers from all over the world asking them the same question: What do you want? What is your pain? What is your goal? Based on these answers, Green Growth was launched.

AFN: How does it help farmers?

ES: If you’re a farmer, you have a bunch of machines [for] the farm. At the end [of the crop cycle] you have combine harvesters that collect the data across the field. Our question was, “What are the analytics?”

We collect the data from the machine during the harvest. We have different products. We have sensors for combines that do not come with sensors from the factory.

And we have smaller modules that take data from the machine and put it into our software. This is where the magic happens.

We take the raw data from the machine. We use data science, some analytics and we calibrate the data. Before this needed to be done by hand. We do everything in the background, then show the farmer the map of yields, the efficiency of the farm and we use this data to tell the farmer how to plant next year.

So we transform this yield map into a prescription map and we give them the files they can use them on other software for other machines like seeders and sprayers. 

AFN: What has the farmer response been so far?

ES: I’ll give you an example with one of our farmers in Europe, a small-to medium farmer, 1,000 hectares, one combine. Using our maps to apply chemicals, they save around 30 euros per hectare.

But if you speak about the time the farmer saves not dealing with instructions [for new tech] buttons, this time [farmers] say is priceless. They just harvest. They are inside the combine or inside the office and only after the season do they open the laptop and think about what to do next.

This is the the main response [from customers]. Of course we save them money but the main part is that we save them time and energy.

We have clients in the Baltic region: Latvia, Lithuania. We also have clients in Spain and France, and a batch of clients in Kazakhstan.

AFN: Where is your pre-seed money going?

ES: You probably noticed it’s not 1 million or 2 million, it’s $300,000. But we have working prototypes and scalable products. So we actually sell and deploy scale.

Most of hardware startups spend millions just do prototype. We have hardware, we have high loaded software, and we have operations. We’ve done this with a small amount of money and so it just shows the how competent the team is and the technology team behind us.

We will be raising a seed round in September or December. That will be for scaling, sales, business, etc.

AFN: What are some of the biggest challenges in ag for that region right now?

AK: These challenges are changing from year to year. Last year, it was a huge problem finding necessary fertilizers because everyone felt the scarcity.

This year it is climate change, which results in low yield. For example, we travel at least once every two weeks to see our clients and all of them told us that from 20% to 30% of the crop yield — barley, soybean, etc. — was lost because of the high temperatures that we faced at the end of June, beginning of July.

ES: This could be a reason to push precision agriculture because before when you had nice weather, rains, etc., you grew crops and made money. You could pay loans and buy new machinery.

Now it’s impossible. If you don’t apply precision techniques, if you don’t figure out which parts of your fields are more efficient, which are less efficient, you won’t be able to save money.

AK: The margins of our customers are becoming less and less from year to year because the prices for fertilizers and seeds are growing much faster than the prices for cereals. Farmers in these times have to be so precise and so efficient.

AFN: What sets Green Growth apart in trying to help farmers?

AK: When it comes to technology, farmers usually roll their eyes, especially when you are trying to sell something really complicated like AI or you have to press hundreds of buttons to get results. Maybe a technology is fantastic, but if farmers struggle to use it, it doesn’t work. Any stage in farming — seeding, tillage — is a stressful time. There is no time to sit down and learn a tool. We understand this problem and believe everything should work from one button. This is our main competitive advantage: it’s really easy and we’re a customer-oriented startup.

It depends on the country, but in some countries farmers don’t even know how to read, so we have to make our technology easy to use for everyone.

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