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'I always wondered why there aren’t more people in the world who get involved in addressing big problems'

This week, Barclays and the Unreasonable Group host the first Unreasonable Impact World Forum, bringing together 27 innovative companies from Asia, the US and Europe working to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

In our final profile of companies taking part, we hear from Matija Zulj, Founder and CEO of Agrivi, about using technology to empower farmers across the globe.

What inspired you to found Agrivi?

Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed about doing something important. I didn’t like the work I was doing. I felt like I could do something more. And I always wondered why there aren’t more people in the world who get involved in addressing big problems.

Can you tell us about your business?

Of the 570 million farms worldwide, 90% are run by individuals or families. For these small-scale farmers, the greatest obstacle to productivity and profit is often a lack of access to basic knowledge about best practices. In addition to focusing on optimising their yields, farmers must constantly monitor weather forecasts, protect their crops against pests and disease, manage labour and hiring, meet with consultants and customers, track inventory, and balance books: a daunting workload. We wanted to find out what agriculture might look like if farmers all over the world could open-source their knowledge base in order to build on and draw from best practices. How much more food could be produced, and at what quality? With our cloud-based farm management software, we aim to equip farmers with the tools and knowledge they need to run farms efficiently, sustainably, and profitably.

 

 

 

We don’t charge for basic knowledge. We want to empower farmers.

Where did you begin, and how did you know where to start?

Since I didn’t know too much about agriculture, I planted a blueberry farm to experience what it would be like to grow my own food, and to understand what it is to be a farmer. In the first year of doing that, I came across so many issues that I started to wonder how it is possible that farmers actually exist today. You can’t access the knowledge you need in order to farm well, and that’s the reason why so many farmers in the world are in decline. I’m from Croatia, and I couldn’t find best practice knowledge easily in Europe. I had to purchase it from the US. So I wanted to know how many farmers are able to do that: not many. So I said: ‘OK, there needs to be some central platform, which is the place where a farmer can manage his daily activities, where he can access knowledge.’

'We aim to equip farmers with the tools and knowledge they need to run farms efficiently, sustainably, and profitably.'

How has Agrivi learned how to interact with local markets?

We are working with farmers directly. The technology is cloud-based software, so it can be used by farmers who have an internet connection. We mostly get in touch with farmers through online queries that we acquire through advertising. We also work with food companies that have large networks of farmers, and they help us to reach the farmers that are interested in increasing their productivity. More productive farmers means greater quality in the companies’ food supply chains, so there’s huge interest. The third segment is organisations, NGOs that work in developing markets with farmers that desperately need knowledge. We empower organisations to cooperate with farmers so that they can encourage best practices, identify top performers, and then push those productivity drivers to other farmers. We don’t charge for basic knowledge. We want to empower farmers.

A version of this interview was originally published on unreasonable.is.

You can follow the event on Facebook Live on Thursday 28 SeptemberYou can follow the event on Facebook Live on Thursday 28 September. Find out more about the event and the companies involved Find out more about the event and the companies involvedFind out more about the event and the companies involved
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