Interview with the CEO of Agritask: Ofir Ardon

16/07/2019 Blog

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Ofir, what is the Agritask story?

Ofir: Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the world and yet it is among the slowest to adopt new technologies. There is a significant adoption barrier as farmers often have a strong preference for their existing work methods and, with new technologies come in different forms – all unconnected, it is difficult for farmers to know where to start.

At Agritask, we focus on facilitating clients in their journey of adopting new technologies. We start by understanding the farmers’ current workflow and digitizing data into one platform, a crucial first step toward creating visibility and better decision making. Our flexible platform can accommodate various data sources, including any agricultural hardware and software. All relevant data is then processed on our platform, resulting in intuitive data presentation and visualization tailored to farmers’ preferences.

As a result, our platform significantly upgrades the ability of decision-makers across the agro-ecosystem to collect, access, and make real use of data. This leads to sustainable improvement in agricultural productivity, better risk management, and higher food and environmental safety.

Agritask covers the end-to-end process of the agricultural production, and is flexible for use by various stakeholders through the agricultural value chain, including insurance and financial institutions.

What exactly is precision agronomy and how does your platform work?

Ofir: Precision agriculture is the ability to move from a “one size fits all” solution where all fields receive the same treatment (such as irrigation, fertilization, spraying, among others) to an area-specific solution where each small area receives the exact amount of inputs and treatment it needs based on its specific conditions.  This is similar to personalized medicine for humans.

Agritask is a GIS (geographic information system)-based system that collects data for each location in the field and gives farmers full visibility on one platform. We support farmers to make accurate data-driven decisions in real-time, resulting in optimal treatment on each and every location in their fields.

An average farm today generates only around 60% of its potential. Precision agriculture in general and Agritask in particular will go a long way toward enabling farmers to achieve higher productivity from their current fields. This is a necessary element in order to meet greater food demand of our planet’s growing population.

What is your biggest USP that differentiates Agritask from competitors?

Ofir: Our greatest strength is that, on the one hand, we provide the most comprehensive platform in the market, enabling our customers to manage their entire operations in a “one platform, one database” solution. On the other hand, we offer the most flexible solution in the market tailoring to any clients’ work method in any crop and in any region worldwide. This enables unmatched ease of use and seamless adoption of the system.

As a testament, we achieve 90% pilot-to-paying conversion rate, and 94% annual clients’ retention rate. Our clients include large growers as well as agricultural buyers, F&B companies, agricultural insurers, and regional extension projects. Today we cover approximately 600,000 hectares, in over 20 crops and in more than 15 countries.

What is the benefit for smallholder farmers and insurers in EM?

Ofir: With our unique system architecture, we can contribute significantly toward improving smallholders’ productivity and well-being, as well as environmental sustainability. The potential is huge – considering smallholders’ huge contribution to the rural economy and large environmental footprint.

In regional extension projects, Agritask specializes in working with a small team of experts to dispatch agronomic advice to smallholders, including optimal use of chemicals, water and fertilizers, and early alerts to weather hazards and disease outbursts. In addition, it enables monitoring and performance tracking of smallholders’ productivity, resulting in a sustainable cycle of self-learning and improvement.

For insurers, Agritask’s offering revolutionizes their ability to perform accurate risk analysis – down to plot-level. This can result in more advanced insurance offerings which better fit the needs of smallholders in each area. In addition, our system drastically reduces operational costs associated with mass registration of smallholders and claims management. This should deepen insurance penetration to new and underserved markets, giving many millions of smallholder framers access to affordable insurance products.

What is your business model – how do you make money off of the data your platform collects?

Ofir: Our business model is a classic Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) model where clients pay an annual license fee for full access to our platform, which includes ongoing support and maintenance. This enables our customers to start using our system without high implementation costs common in this industry. It also ensures recurring revenues as long as we are able to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, which we are confident about. The data in our system is leveraged for the benefit of our clients, as we analyze the data to drive continuous improvement by our clients both throughout the season and from one season to the next.

In how many countries are you already active, and what is the main target group?

Ofir: Today Agritask is active in more than 15 countries, focusing on 4 main target groups: large growers, ag-service providers (buyers and inputs providers), agricultural insurers, and regional extension projects.

You have already 70 clients. To what do you attribute your rapid growth?

Ofir: We understand that the biggest challenge in the scaling of precision agriculture technologies is the significant ‘adoption barrier’ that companies must overcome to first reach and then maintain in the market. Agritask’s biggest advantage over its competitors is the ability to easily adapt the system to each client’s specific work flows and requirements which enable them much easier adoption of our platform without changing at all the way they work. Once customers see the ease of use of the system, alongside its ability to answer all of their needs in one system, they are much more open to try using Agritask, and once they try, they start seeing the value very quickly on.

How are BlueOrchard and the InsuResilience Investment Fund helping your growth?

Ofir: Today we focus our efforts on working with agriculture insurance companies and regional extension projects serving many smallholders in developing countries. Therefore we find our relationship with the InsuResilience Investment Fund so valuable, as the fund has profound knowledge and strong network with different stakeholders in the financial and agricultural insurance eco-system. This makes BlueOrchard an important strategic partner on top of it being a financial partner to the company.

What are your next milestones in terms of growth and international expansion? And what is your vision for the company for the next years in terms of size and impact?

Ofir: Agritask is an impact-driven company that has set a goal to become the market leader in agriculture management platforms in order to help farmers worldwide improve their productivity, profitability and well-being through the use of technologies. Our long-term goal is to reach more than 25 million farmers by 2025. In the short term, we are looking to expand rapidly our insurance activities in the developing markets, as we believe better risk management can make the biggest impact on smallholder farmers. In parallel, we are building the company’s capabilities to implement large, nation-wide regional projects which can significantly upgrade agriculture operations on an entire country level.

 

Thank you, Ofir, for answering our questions.