We were informed about a Greek application called iFarma back in January 2014, while browsing the news from e-agriculture.org (an amazing news aggregator for the agricultural sector). We saw a news item titled “Mobile applications for Agriculture can now speak Greek” and this title immediately caught our attention; not only it was not common news but also we thought that we should find out more about the app and the people behind it! The news item was about iFarma, an Android/iOS app for managing agriculture and dairy activities, developed in Greek by a Greek company.
The app is developed by Agrostis, a new Greek company activated in the field of agricultural informatics. We thought that it would be really interesting to learn more about the company and the specific app, as we are also activated in a closely related context as Agro-Know. This provided us with the opportunity to get in touch with Vangelis Vassiliadis, Electrical Eng. With Msc in IT (VV), one of the co-founders of Agrostis who accepted our invitation for a short interview in the AK blog:
1. Could you please tell us a little bit about the Agrostis team? How did you start and what is its current status?
VV: Agrostis was founded in 2012 by two old-time friends. It all started with the principal idea that Agriculture as one of the main sectors in Greek economy is currently poorly served by IT. There are no concrete IT solutions and business that specialise and address the needs of the large agriculture sector in Greece. Agrostis was founded as a means to join forces and expertise of its founders with the vision to fill this gap and develop and market IT solutions dedicated to Agriculture.
2. What about iFarma? How did you conceive the concept and how easy was for you to actually implement it?
VV: ifarma is a complete, self-integrated farm management application in the form an app that runs on a standalone mobile device, smartphone or tablet. So far such applications existed in other markets (mainly USA, West Europe and Australia) only in the form of mobile add-ons/modules of larger agriculture ERP systems. Complete, standalone farm management applications are just now starting to enter the market internationally and thus ifarma is in the edge of this market not only in Greece but also on a global scale. Ifarma development was a 2 year project, starting from market study and requirement analysis to the design, coding, testing and pilot operation.
3. What exactly is iFarma doing? Can you describe the functionalities of the app?
VV: Ifarma can be best described as an all in-one notebook for a farmer integrated with financial management. Using the app the farmer can plan, track, record and analyse all farming activites, associated costs, review profit and loss statements, maintain inventories, track income and expenses, enable farm certification and product traceability. He can use the device camera to take photos and associate them with fields, plants or activities. He can record farming tasks positions using GPS and he can view his farm’s fields on Goolge maps. All data required by the application are locally stored, there is no need for an internet connection to use the application, and in addition ifarma provides an automatic synchronisation mechanism that stores the data in the cloud.
4. Do you see a need for such an application out there? How well was iFarma accepted so far?
VV: ifarma was accepted very positively, actually with a lot of praise from farmers themselves but also from scientists, agronomists and also researchers in the field. Market is huge but ifarma representing a completely new technology has a learning curve and it will take some time before adoption rates by the majority of farmers achieve their true potential. At this moment ifarma is used by what is called the “early adopters”.
5. The app and all related information seems to be only available in Greek. Do you have any plans for providing an English version of the app and the corresponding documentation?
VV: Application is also available in English already, though many of the preloaded data (e.g plant protection products, varieties, task templates) are still available only in Greek. We’ re currently in the process of development English version for all related documentation, (app’ site, online documentation, App Store information).
6. What are the next steps of Agrostis?
VV: Agrostis is committed to continuously improve and support ifarma to keep it at the edge of both technology and functionality internationally. We are also active in marketing ifarma and spread the word to the agriculture sector (businesses and individuals) in Greece. Internationalization of the Software is also in the near future plans of Agrostis. Finally we’re also active in establishing working relationships with universities and research institutions in order to exploit the tool’s functionality for research and development projects in Agriculture.
7. Do you think that there are still opportunities for Greek SMEs during the crisis in Greece? Any tips for those who would like to try something similar?
VV: Absolutely. Crisis can be seen as a “high-pass” filter for all of businesses, not only SMEs. Those who have good products and management not only will survive but they will also thrive. Management is essential because in a “low-liquidity” environment of the current crisis, correct decision making is crucial for survival. Starting up a new business is not a 100m event, it is a long distance run. You need persistence and patience. As one put is “Any successful project is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration”.
We would like to thank Vangelis Vassiliadis for taking the time to share this information with us.
You can download the app for Android from Google Play and AppBrain and the iPhone/iPad version from the Apple AppStore. In addition, you can check the updates of the Agrostis and the iFarma app in Facebook, Twitter and the Agrostis blog.