"We see a high demand for digitalization from farmers of the South of Russia"

Digital technologies improve the efficiency of agriculture companies. That is why, despite the difficulties, more and more players begin to use new solutions

Digitalization of the agro-industrial complex has become a prerequisite for maintaining high business efficiency, and this is not always associated with considerable financial expenses. In addition, it contributes to the implementation of the country's food security strategy. During the plenary session "Strong Russia: how does the village ensure the country's food security today and in the future?" at the YugAgro 2023 exhibition in Krasnodar, experts, representatives of government and agribusiness concluded that, in the challenging economic reality, good logistics plays an important role.

Anton Kondratov, General Director of Smartseeds Group, discussed with the RBC TV Yug at the exhibition how the market has changed and what was the importance of YugAgro.

Anton Kondratov, Smartseeds

Difficulties in digitalization of the agro-industrial complex

During discussions on the development of the country's agricultural sector, experts often mention statistics, from which it follows that the agro-industrial complex in Russia is much less digitalized when compared with similar indicators in Europe or the USA. In your opinion, do market players and industry experts have a shared vision of the agricultural industry digitalization today?

By today, we have a common understanding that digital technologies improve life. Another question is that agriculture is a high-risk business that depends on a lot of factors. The introduction of technologies in the context of crops is also a very risky process. It is very important that their advantages have been proven. This is why many companies that create digital solutions often share responsibility for their implementation with farmers. When a farmer comes to understand that innovation increases production, its implementation becomes much faster.

During the discussion of the agro-industrial complex digitalization, it is often noted that larger holdings are much more willing to implement new technologies, and small farms are less active in this process. Do you see the gap and its widening?

Here we need to separate the intentions. What are digital technologies in the life of large organizations and small farms? When it comes to large holdings, this is a vital necessity in an increasingly growing business. Without this, the efficiency of an enterprise cannot be ensured. Yes, significant funds are required to implement these technologies. As for farmers, I think that a large number of usable solutions are also available to small farms.

Advantages of new technologies in the industry

Is there some kind of breakdown by regions in this context? How many enterprises in the South of the country are willing to implement new technologies?

I would rather move away from approaches based on breakdown by regions. What is the advantage of digital technologies? The fact that they can be used by a large number of users in a wide variety of places where there is access to the Internet. The higher activeness of Smartseeds in the South of the country is based mostly on the fact that Kuban and Don are the granaries of Russia, where a very large grain yield is traditionally harvested. Today, the Russian Federation is a leader in grain exports. Farmers in the southern regions definitely use all technologies to maintain crop growth rates and ensure implementation of the important food security strategy.

So to speak, you are "digitizing" the grain transportation market. What trends can we note for this year?

The volume of grain transported and the number of active users of the service are growing. Moreover, the money turnover is increasing by several times. I see that more and more people are using our digital tool. One of the reasons is that it is available on equal terms to all participants who meet the requirements of the Agro-Industrial Complex Charter. Accordingly, nothing more is required from a person. A person just visits the site, registers, and does not depend on any personal relationship, does not depend on any factors. They can schedule the work that they want to take and can get. This is a huge plus of new technologies: equal access, equal terms for everyone and independence from someone's opinion.

Last year, your company introduced the "field-to-threshing floor", "field-to-elevator" and "field-to-threshing floor-to-elevator" routes. Let us discuss this functionality, and how much the farmers of the South are willing to address you.

There is a lot of discussion about combines, about the fact that they harvest crops very precisely due to GPS sensors. Then they face a rather practical issue: how to transport the harvest? Proven KAMAZ trucks, so-called "selkhozniki" (local small-time service providers), are gathered at the edge of the field. The problem lies in the necessity to ensure the operation of these trucks during the process of harvesting of a particular field. For this purpose, we digitized the truck delivery and document flow. We see a high demand for this service from farmers of the South.

On the demand of the South of Russia for digital solutions

You are collecting statistics by region. How actively does the South contact your company?

Now our company's work is more focused on the South, and we see the following trend: the region is involved very much. Here it should be noted, if we are talking about our business, then we are on the verge of introducing an electronic bill of lading. This is a solution that will make the document flow "digital". In the near future, this product will become fully cloud-based.

We communicated with you at the 30th international exhibition YugAgro 2023. How do you like it this year? What are your impressions of it?

This is not the first year that we participate in this exhibition. This year it has really become bigger. The exhibition is very useful in terms of delivery of information about those technologies that are just entering our lives. In terms of the exchange of experience, communication between participants who can confirm the proven experience of implementing these technologies.

The 31st International Exhibition of Agricultural Machinery, Equipment and Materials for Crop Production YugAgro 2024 will be held on 19–22 November at the Expograd Yug exhibition centre, Krasnodar. Free electronic registration for visitors is already open on the official YugAgro website.