DroneUA ("DIGI FLY" LLC) with the support of the USAID Program for Agrarian and Rural Development (AGRO) is implementing a large-scale project aimed at popularizing the use of unmanned and robotic technologies among producers of vegetables, fruits and berries. The project envisages the adaptation of innovative solutions to the production needs of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in order to increase their productivity, market competitiveness and increase the number of enterprises in specified value-added chains.
The final agreements between DroneUA and Chemonics International, which implements the USAID AGRO Program in Ukraine, were signed at the end of October. The comprehensive program of events is designed for a period of 1.5 years (November 2021-June 2023) and includes the development of methodical materials, demonstration shows, provision of advisory and unified technological services. In the future, the geography of the project should cover all regions of Ukraine.
"As an integrator of unmanned solutions with international experience, we entered this project with a clear vision - to transfer the acquired expertise and experience of implementing innovative solutions from the level of powerful agribusinesses to the scale of small and medium-sized farmers," comments Valery Yakovenko, co-founder of DroneUA. — Today, the penetration of digital solutions, including the use of robotics, in the technological processes of micro, small and medium-sized manufacturers remains very, very low. And among farmers specializing in vegetables, fruits, berries — individual cases. This season, fruit and berry plantations accounted for less than 2% of the entire area treated by spraying drones. This is despite the fact that the market demand for the application of fertilizers and pesticides by drones has increased many times in 2021. The lack of interest on the part of small and niche manufacturers is primarily due to a lack of technological knowledge about how innovations work (in this particular case, spraying drones), understanding of cost, benefits, savings, advantages and opportunities. They often lack knowledge about which solutions can be used to optimize processes and how to apply them in practice. Moreover, this category of farmers works in the so-called "non-market", where the basic elements of planning, cost accounting, pricing, and sales channels are missing. Our joint efforts should become the catalyst for new approaches to doing business, which will provide them with a competitive position both in the domestic and foreign markets."
In recent years, the domestic fruit and vegetable market has been undergoing transformational processes: on the one hand, demand stimulates production, on the other hand, the requirements for the quality and safety of products are increasing, growing and storage processes, traceability of sales channels are becoming increasingly standardized. In Ukraine, there are problems with this, since about 90% of vegetables (including potatoes), fruits and berries are supplied by households, another 2% are produced by farmers, and the remaining 8% are industrial production (state statistics for 2019). In fact, the fruit and vegetable industry is the sphere of self-employment of the rural population.
Experts of the USAID AGRO program point out that innovative solutions, such as precision agriculture, robotics and unmanned technologies, farm management, play an increasingly important role in the conditions of climate change, market conditions, and consumer preferences. Markets are changing, the environment is becoming more aggressive in the competition for sales channels and end users. Therefore, Ukrainian producers must be ready for competition through the reduction of production costs, increase in yield, and guarantee of quality. Without intensive technologies, it will be simply impossible to do this in the near future. And as a result, the domestic market will be filled with imported products. The AGRO program is interested in providing support to qualified companies that demonstrate their ability to improve and adapt services based on innovative solutions to the needs of MSMEs.
"The start of a project of this scale is not only a step towards the formation of a culture of using innovations among small agribusinesses. This is a strategic opportunity for Ukraine to become number 1 in the world market for the use of smart technologies and robotics in agricultural production. Ukraine is already a leader in the European market in the use of spraying drones. The market for robotics services will continue to grow 4-5 times each year for the next 5 years. And we should use this trend as an elevator for domestic agribusiness and technology companies," — Valery Yakovenko, co-founder of DroneUA.
The implementation of the first stage has already started. Details of the project will be available later on the DroneUA website. Already now, all those interested can go through a short registration at the link below and receive up-to-date project news, useful information and methodological materials in electronic newsletters.
Name of the project: "The project to popularize the services of applying fertilizers and PPE with the help of unmanned and robotic technologies among MSMEs working in the sectors of growing and processing vegetables, fruits and berries"
Implementation period: November 2021-June 2023
Target audience: micro, small and medium producers of fruit and vegetable products (except farms engaged in the industrial cultivation of nuts and red grapes for winemaking)
Geography: all of Ukraine, except temporarily occupied territories
The USAID Program for Agricultural and Rural Development (AGRO) is a five-year Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is implemented by Kimonix International. The goal of the program: to accelerate the economic development of rural communities in Ukraine, which need the most support, by improving management in the agricultural sector, which will contribute to the development of more productive, modern and profitable micro, small and medium agricultural enterprises (MSMEs). Goals of the USAID AGRO Program: improving productivity and access to markets in targeted value added chains, improving support functions and the regulatory and legal framework in the agricultural sector. The USAID AGRO program will help to increase the incomes of agricultural MSMEs and their access to financing and create a fair and transparent agricultural land market in Ukraine, which will reduce corruption in the agricultural sector.
Register for the Project