With the help of technology, nearly every sector is improving its productivity. The agriculture sector also has, over the years, included various technologies from planting to harvesting processes to optimize harvest. In horticulture, however, there were not any concurrent technology solutions to monitor fruit growth, count fruits, measure the overall fruit produce, and estimate essential details like weather and soil conditions.
What if you could do all the planning and measurement of your orchard with the help of your smartphone? Wouldn’t it be super convenient? The good news is that now it has been made possible by the digital and AI-based horticulture solution company, Pixofarm. With the help of photos of fruits and trees submitted by fruit growers, the AI tools of the application can perform various analyses on them.
Pixofarm helps in optimizing the harvest, using resources efficiently, and getting the most out of the orchards by providing reliable yield monitoring and forecast data. Pixofarm, which was launched in 2019, has already been in high demand across the globe. It has clients in 20-plus nations.
In an interview with Insights Success, the Co-founders of Pixofarm, Farid Edrisian, CEO, and Dr. Hamed Bastani – CTO, spoke about how their digital solution for horticulture is helping fruit growers optimize operations in orchards.
Please brief our audience about your company, its USPs, and how it is positioned as a leading name in the horticulture sector.
Pixofarm is a digital and AI-based solution that empowers fruit producers worldwide to optimize their harvest, use resources efficiently, and get the most out of their orchards by providing reliable yield monitoring and forecast data.
The prerequisite is smartphone photos of fruits as well as fruit trees. Precise data about one’s own orchard also serves as a basis. Based on the orchard’s location, Pixofarm includes weather and satellite data in its calculations in order to provide accurate results. This allows users to make informed decisions and optimize processes such as logistics, packaging, and distribution with Zero-Hardware investment.
By having this information weeks in advance, producers can improve their yield, choose the right market and negotiate better prices for their production. The advantage of the technology and possibilities that Pixofarm brings is best reflected in the fact that we have customers in 20+ countries across the world.
We have won several international awards like the Interpoma Startup Award in 2020, the Global Startup Awards for Best Newcomer 2020 in CEE as well as the Best Practical Solution for the Agrifood Sector in 2020 at the Startup Europe Smart Agrifood Summit.
As of today, Pixofarm can be used on apples, pears, and citrus varieties. There are many already existing solutions for extensive agriculture and farming, but not that much for horticulture. This is the gap Pixofarm is filling.
Being experienced leaders, share with us your opinion on what impact has the adoption of AI and machine learning technologies had on the horticulture sector and what more could be expected in the future?
AI and machine learning support fruit growers in their decision-making process. Experience and expertise are two very important elements in agriculture. Fruit growers need to know their orchards in order to react properly to the needs of their crops and soil.
In addition, climate change and more demanding market requirements make it more difficult to lean on experiences from the past and having optimized processes and fruit quality becomes crucial to be successful in the market.
In this context, precision agriculture tools like Pixofarm help us not only in keeping an eye on each aspect of a farm’s management and potential outcomes but also in improving the agronomic impact of farmers on their crops, better identifying each crucial requirement.
Considering the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face, and how did you drive your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
As our service is a digital solution that does not require human contact, we were spared the constraints of the pandemic in this sense. However, there were other challenges that came our way.
Since fruit growing is based on a lot of experience and in-depth knowledge, building trust with customers is very important. Before the pandemic, these customer meetings were often held in person. As that was no longer possible, other doors have opened.
In addition to digital meetings, we now have a monthly webinar where we present the latest trends in horticulture and our solutions. Nevertheless, we are very much looking forward to being able to devote more time to direct personal contact at trade fairs and meetings again.
Besides the impact on our daily business, there were also changes in the way we work as a team. Since Pixofarm was still very young when the pandemic first hit, we were able to adapt fast to the rapid changes that occurred. The employees can work remotely when the situation demands it or when they feel more comfortable during this challenging period.
Additionally, new approaches and channels to digital communication have been found to ensure effective digital communication and to keep the team spirit high. Through our agile and flexible way of working, we have improved many aspects of the work over the last two years and will continue to do so in the future.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the horticulture space?
Think out of the box with your ideas and talk to growers personally to get a better perspective on the actual challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. You have to be market-driven in order to survive and should focus on a customer-centric strategy.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?
Our goal is to eventually be the world’s #1 fruit yield estimation tool. We want to become an enabling platform and expand our offerings across the fruit production value chain. For example, we are now launching a post-harvest solution to measure fruits in harvest bins through the sole use of a phone.
We are also continuously working on expanding your fruit portfolio. In addition to apple, pears, and citrus, other fruits are planned for 2022. And of course, we want to expand to many more countries. As a 100% digital solution, any grower can just download the app and start getting the benefits.
The Prime Movers
The idea was born in 2019 when Pixofarm Co-Founders Farid Edrisian and Hamed Bastani recognized the need for digitalization in Horticulture, which moved them to lay the foundation for the development of a smart solution for fruit growing.
Elaborating on how they came up with the idea of Pixofarm, Mr. Farid Edrisian said that “Specifically, we became aware of the great importance of harvest monitoring in the value chain of fruit production. We realized that this process is currently mainly manual, and alternative solutions are either not precise enough or very expensive. During the research, our mission quickly became clear: we want to enable fruit growers around the world to optimize their harvest results, work resource-efficiently and get the most out of their farmland.”
“The development of the Pixofarm app progressed rapidly. The company was founded in 2019 in Vienna/Austria, and already in the first year, numerous pilot customers were acquired all around the globe. Additionally, working directly with fruit producers and associations has helped us a lot. We get valuable insights from them and benefit from decades of experience, which allows us to tailor our product to their individual needs. We are very happy that fruit growers around the world are ready for innovation on their farms and hope to accompany many more of them on their journey,” Dr. Hamed Bastani added.