Localization of agritech: Language is just the first out of 6 things to adapt - Netokracija CEE

Localization of agritech: Language is just the first out of 6 things to adapt

When entering a new market, regardless of the type of technology, platform or content, software localization is a must. But for digital tools in the agriculture industry it takes on a whole set of new, unexpected dimensions. 

They closed last year with a 30,2 million kuna (~4 million euro) investment and set off into this year with a partner network expansion to Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Asia, and USA. Croatia’s AGRIVI is now, 7 years after its foundation, one of the world’s leading agritech companies.

The possibility of AGRIVI becoming a world-class player did not come over night. Even before starting this company, CEO Matija Žulj became a farmer himself to determine the problems in agricultural processes, enabling him to one day create a platform offering a full management system covering everything a farmer could need.

But not every farmer in the world has the same needs. 

Each new country means a new system & database adjustment

Depending on the country or region, farmers will encounter similar, yet different problems with pests, and will need to adhere to varying regulations while tending to & protecting their crops.

So for AGRIVI, now present in all corners of the globe, localization is a vital step in the distribution of their software.

First of all, there’s a language barrier. But in agritech, this is only the beginning of the story. Aside from translating the app itself, agritech software localization entails a whole set of segments that need to be adapted to each market, says Matija:

Green Deal, food safety and quality, biodiversity, carbon footprint, effects on soil, underground waters, and other crucial topics define the course of development for the agriculture industry. They define a multitude of regulatory frameworks that farmers need to adapt to, and different countries have different regulatory frameworks.

What needs to be localized in agriculture?

The AGRIVI platform has a variety of options, some of which are available to free users – farm management, analytical tools, pest alarms, detailed weather reports and a personalized knowledge base. It’s available for desktop and mobile and its localization is extremely complex. To give you an example, translating the current knowledge base would require 2 months of non-stop work of a single translator.

This is why AGRIVI has defined several localization segments vital for growth in new markets:

1. Language

For AGRIVI, translation to other languages was one of the key upgrades.

AGRIVI’s VP of Technology, Darko Gebaei, emphasized that farmers often don’t speak other languages and will not use an app that isn’t available in their local language. Moreover, farming industry workers tend to speak only their native language.

Having in mind that AGRIVI was aiming for the global market, their minimal viable product (MVP) was released with English and Croatian language support from the get-go. However, it soon proved not to be enough, so AGRIVI is now localized for 4 world markets and translated into 14 languages.

2. Pest protection database

Pest protection (pesticides) is a vital part of agricultural production and the regulatory framework.

For production planning and reporting, it is necessary to have a wide range of information on each registered pesticide, and they vary from one country to the next. To have a widely accepted digital tool, you need to have a pesticide that farmers can use without needing to input the data themselves – simply because that’s not something they’d be willing to do, Matija Žulj explains.

Furthermore, it is important to pay attention to individual responsibility when applying protective agents to crops, which is outlined by each country.

Tanja Folnović, Customer Success Team Lead at AGRIVI, says that through incorrect use of pest protection, for example in strong winds, an individual can contaminate the neighboring parcel and crops, poison their neighbor’s bees, or even destroy nearby plantations. At the end of the day, this means that before entering a new market, experts must research and enter all existing pesticides found in, for example, Poland’s agricultural pharmacies.

3. Disease and pest alarms

While on the subject of protective agents, farmers utilize them to diminish pest damage and ensure planned yields. The latest data show yields are diminished by pests as much as 43% worldwide, and by 28% in Europe.

This is why adapting the configuration of disease and pest detection algorithms, to the specifics of each region or country, is one of the most important factors of localization. AGRIVI has a knowledge base of over 400 blights and pests for over 80 plant species. And they all needed to be adapted to the covered climates and markets.

Additionally, their platform contains a list of active ingredients, as well as their commercial names, for combating pests.

4. Fertilizer database

Aside from the globally available fertilizing products, each country has its local fertilizers. While planning nutritional supplementation and analyzing which supplement regimes have the best yield and quality, it is necessary to calculate the amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus to be added into the soil, that means it is necessary to have data for each fertilizer, Tanja explains:

For the needs of regulatory reporting on the effects on soil, water, climate and environment, it is necessary to know the exact amounts of particular elements inserted into the ground. In order to facilitate the use of its platform for farmers, AGRIVI has a fertilizer database for each country where the platform is more firmly present, with nutrients listed for every product.

5. Reports

For each represented region, AGRIVI covers key reports on productions, traceability, and environmental impact, which farmers require for certifications or inspections.

In the coming years, farmers will meet an increasing number of obligations towards soil sustainability and food safety. AGRIVI is the first platform in Europe to completely automate this legislative process. “You click and there’s your report”, says Tanja, highlighting the fact that reports have also been adapted to each country, meaning that AGRIVI in Hungary, for example, is connected to the local Ministry of Agriculture’s API.

6. Currencies and measurement units

Outside of the Eurozone, each country has its currency which farmers use to track their expenses – that makes currencies one of the fundamental points of localization.

However, when it comes to measurement units, alongside hectares, kilograms, meters (metric system), farmers also use acres, pounds, inches (imperial system), and often local units as well. On the AGRIVI platform, farmers can use measurement units that are easily understandable and available to users around the world.

Specialized content requires expertise regardless of where and how it’s used

From the very beginning of its development, Matija and his team decided that the platform needs to be comprehensive and include reporting options, pest and disease alarms, available fertilizers, etc. – everything that a farmer might need to operate. He explains:

Big and small farmers in Europe today find it extremely important to use software such as AGRIVI in order to raise the quality of production as part of the EU’s Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy.

What’s presenting as quite a challenge is finding people who have skills and knowledge to prepare everything that’s needed to enter a new market, adds Tanja:

In order to keep up with the times, it is necessary to continually keep an eye on the news and market needs on one hand, and on the other to think about what could be useful for even more profitable agricultural production. Our biggest advantage is the expert agronomists who bring the knowledge and experience that are indispensable in this industry.

We need to invest in digitalization and dissemination of knowledge on which practices to implement for effective nutrition, food safety and positive environmental impact. If we look at the number of agronomists available, they simply don’t have the capacities for that, which leaves digital as the only channel where we can do that. 

Even though each country they’re present at has a completely different culture and traditions, their goals are the same – to have more profitable agricultural production, Tanja concludes.

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