The vast majority of fruit producers in Greece face sustainability problems, as they have small and fragmented farms with fields that are often in different microclimate zones and face high inputs costs, lack of resources for investments and lack of financing. They take their everyday decisions based on either their intuition, or the acquired knowledge of their ancestors, facing these challenges with increased use of plant protection products, fertilizers and water, increasing production costs, risking overall quality, while depleting natural resources, and harming the environment. Farmers need a way to reduce production costs and increase their revenues at an environmental friendly way.
Proodos Farmers’ Union in Pella, Greece, is such an example. ALTERRA is a food processing company that works closely local producers and cooperatives like Proodos to produce high quality frozen fruit products for a wide variety of food producers, food distribution networks and retailers /supermarkets. They usually offer contracts to farmers offering a better price for high quality products but they need a way a) to support the production of these products and b) to prove the high quality to their customers and build up their brand name ripping additional value. In addition, being able to get a certificate like GLOBALG.A.P. Farm Sustainability Assessment (GGFSA), they have access to new markets and buyers that offer higher price.
The solution to the problem will be addressed with a mixture of technological, social, entrepreneurial and institutional innovations!
First, a Smart Farming (SF) solution, Gaiasense, will be established in the area of Proodos, helping the farmers to reduce the application of inputs (water, fertilisers, pesticides), thus reducing the production costs, improving the fruit quality (less chemical residuals), while reducing the smaller environmental footprint of the production. Furhermore, connecting the gaiasense and the systems of Alterra with the Ploutos traceability solution will help in collecting all the needed data/proof to secure certification and sustainability related labels, like GGFSA and the “Macedonian Land Products” label of Central Macedonia Region (policy maker). In addition, measuring the additional value created by the new collaboration between the two value chain links (Proodos and Alterra) that enabled securing the certificates and labels based on the collected and shared data, and proposing a fair redistribution among them. Finally, an extra benefit will be that the farmers can use the collected data as a secondary evidence in the context of the new monitoring and traffic lights system of the Future CAP.
Technological: Gaiasense holistic SF solution, is building on multiple data types (IoT soil and weather data, EO imagery, soil analysis, farm logs etc) in order to help to increase the efficiency production and reduce costs, while making data available through the traceability system to help with certification purposes. In addition, it will make data available to the new monitoring system of the new CAP in Greece to help farmers provide evidence and secure subsidies.
Social: Gaiasense is designed especially for small farmers that have no funds for expensive equipment. NP handles the infrastructure costs and offer affordable advice at an annual subscription basis.
Organisational/Entrepreneurial: ALTERRA offers guidance and contracts to producers that guarantee high prices for delivering quality products with low environmental footprint, thus having a better product to sell and building the brand name. The coordination between the organisations to establish the traceability system for certification purposes allows them to target better markets and reap additional value.
Institutional: ALTERRA and Proodos take advantage of certification for specific standards and protocols posed by the market and by policy makers like the Region of Central Macedonia. Proodos is also taking advantage of the technology solution to cover the new requirements of the future CAP and secure subsidies.
Economic: Input reduction using SF leads to production costs reduction, while producing a higher quality product due to less chemicals used. Additional revenue due to higher sales due to the penetration to additional markets achieved by the acquisition of the new certification and labels, of even by the higher price than some of these most exclusive markets may be paying.
Social: More profitability for the local farmers and food industry supports the region with more money and jobs. In addition, less chemicals being used means less health issues.
Environmental: Input reduction using SF leads to less chemicals in the soil and the water, and less irrigation leads to reduced water consumption.