Romanian agri-tech startup Ogor brings precision agriculture solution to the local market
Romanian agri-tech startup Ogor has developed an agronomic analysis application based on satellite images. The startup is currently focused on the local market but already has users from outside of the country. While planning to add new functionalities to the app, it bets on the local agricultural sector’s openness to innovation.
The solution offered by Ogor translates information about the agricultural conditions of a plot of land in a way that is accessible and useful to farmers, helping them make better-informed decisions. The startup was recognized so far in several acceleration programs: it won the Best Business Award at Innovation Labs 2020; it was included in the Orange Fab acceleration program; and it benefited so far from financing acceleration programs such as Copernicus Incubator or EIT Climate KIC, Parsec.
Ogor emerged in 2019 when a team of experienced programmers joined an entrepreneur who saw the development potential of local agriculture and the key role technology can have in this. The increased interest of local farmers in the idea supported the project, which spotted the need for precision agriculture on the local market.
“In 2019, we established Ogor starting from three things: a team of experienced programmers, passionate about processing satellite images, a successful entrepreneur who understood the development potential of Romanian agriculture and the essential role technology is to play in this development, and the high interest of many successful agronomists in Romania for our idea.
Besides all these, we are concerned with the impact of climate change and the need to adapt our practices to respond to the challenges brought about by these changes; this is why a very important instrument in precision agriculture turned out to be one of the main needs of this market,” Dafina Jeacă, co-founder and COO of Ogor, explains.
The platform, launched at the beginning of 2020, integrates the feedback received from farmers.
“The philosophy we built Ogor on entails a continuous communication with farmers and integrating their feedback into the platform. Romanian farmers, being constantly pressured by time and lack of resources, have the capacity to identify rapidly what is useful and in what form. This is why we decided to launch the platform at the beginning of 2020, to be able to offer farmers an entire season, a period during which they shared openly their expectations, and we were able to adapt technology to their needs.
Although it might not look like this from a distance, the market of Romanian agriculture is very open to innovation. The issue at stake is not the cost or the adoption, but the added value that your product brings to the agronomist’s work. The Romanian farmers welcome you with open arms and are willing to listen, but it is very important not to deceive their expectations,” the Ogor co-founder says.
Initially, Ogor was created around a team of senior programmers with experience in interpreting satellite images, joined by specialists from academia. Later, experienced agronomists and business development specialists joined the team.
In the first phase, the project's focus is on Romania, while other markets are to be explored in the coming years. Still, the app already has users from outside of the country as well.
“Our app is targeted at agronomists first of all. Agronomists are those who are faced every day with the need to make dozens of decisions, and our app has the role of clarifying the situations they are faced with and making their decision easier.
Our development plan entails that, at first, we focus our efforts on the Romanian market and expand to other markets in the coming years. The platform is available globally currently as well, and we have users from France, Germany, Bulgaria and other countries, but expanding into a market entails a sustained technological and commercial effort, and this is why we created a clear calendar that allows us to allocate the right resources at the right time for every step we are about to take,” Dafina Jeacă says.
The platform offers a range of data meant to help users take appropriate decisions, and the team is also working on launching an instrument to identify and automatically report plots of land with potential problems and prognosis modules for corn productivity.
“Ogor aims to become the main instrument used by agronomists for regular decisions. Ogor currently offers easy and intuitive access to vegetation maps – NDVI, pedo-climatic data, details on the plant’s hydric stress, management areas and historical data for every plot the farmer manages. Ogor is also a useful field inspection instrument, and the mobile app offers functionalities to measure impacted areas, photographing and notes, as well as the option to share the collected information,” the COO explains. “In the short term, we are working on launching an instrument to identify and report automatically plots of land with potential problems and corn productivity prognosis modules.”
The start of the project meant thousands of hours of programming, the COO explains, and many discussions with farmers. Furthermore, the project received funding in several acceleration programs it was included.
“As we are talking about software, the start of the project entailed, first of all, thousands of hours of programming alongside hundreds of discussions with farmers. We wanted the information to be presented in the form the farmers expected, simply, clearly and concisely.
It is hard to quantify today the total value of the investment. Besides the work of every team member, the financial part, in work or know-how, the project benefited so far from financing in the programs of the European Space Agency and other acceleration programs such as Copernicus Incubator or EIT Climate KIC, Parsec.”
One of the main challenges was reaching the farmers, but the startup is constantly working on taking the message about the app’s benefits further.
“Being an independent startup, not affiliated to any agriculture group, the main challenge was to reach the farmers. We obviously have a way of promoting online and through a contact center, and, for the future, we are looking for reliable partners that can help us carry our message closer to the farmers.”
In the coming period, the company plans to focus on adding new functionalities to the platform and on increasing the number of users.
“Over the next period, we will focus on bringing new functionalities to the platform, requested by Romanian farmers. As a first, starting with the 2022 season, Ogor will offer farmers an automated report of single-crop plots of land in the farm with potential problems and adequate support in identifying the causes as well as recommendations concerning the solutions to adopt.
We have also opened the Ogor.ro Contact Center. The second important target for the coming period is to increase the number of farmers who use the platform regularly.”
As for the pandemic, the impact on the software development activity was relatively minor, but it did make meeting farmers more difficult.
From the interaction with farmers so far, the team has seen openness to how the platform can improve their results, all in the context of the challenges brought on by climate change.
“At Ogor, continuous learning is an essential part in the development of our business, a constant action to identify trends, opportunities and adopt available solutions fast. From all our interactions with farmers, it seems that they are also attentive to the new and ready to learn about anything that can bring them real support, and Ogor is today the main independent solution in the field of satellite monitoring of agricultural fields in Romania and farmers are interested in learning how the platform can simplify their work and improve their results.
Especially in the context of the challenges brought on by climate change, Romanian agriculture adapts, has the specialists able to overcome these challenges, and we are here to offer them the modern digital instruments to improve their results.”
(Photos courtesy of Ogor)