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Roelof Kramer, CEO of Agricompas and Project Lead of EcoProMIS

The global corona crisis has a severe impact on our daily lives. National lockdowns are restricting travel and preventing us from seeing family and friends. It is scary and depressing how control of our daily lives has vanished without warning.

That’s why I bought ten fertilised chicken eggs on the internet and placed them in an incubator. Always good to have something to look forward to! Three weeks later my children hatched five healthy chicks which are now under a heat lamp provided with ample feed and water.

But wait! Did we really do that properly? In the middle of the night my wife had to check if the chicks were not too hot or cold, hungry or thirsty. Of course, they were all fine but “better safe than sorry” especially when growing crops or raising livestock as we do in agriculture.

The challenge of sustainability
For decades now our planet has had to feed increasingly more people while its resources are more and more strained. As a result, we are faced with deforestation, biodiversity loss, people displacement and soil & air pollution.

Although we see examples daily, little is done to create more sustainable systems as economic interests compete severely with social and environmental interests which are difficult to express in financial metrics.

On the one hand it is not in the short-term interest of politicians nor corporates to sacrifice public electability or shareholder profits while on the other hand NGOs, philanthropists or the angered public lack the resources, organisation and reach.

As a result, we create partial and disjointed solutions that reduce problems rather than solving them in a whole system approach.

The idea behind EcoProMIS
In 2016 Agricompas hatched the concept of an Ecological Production Management Information System or “EcoProMIS”. It is a system that can create valuable solutions while combining the competing interests of the different stakeholders in one commercially viable business model.

EcoProMIS is a data analytics platform that processes comprehensive crop data as detailed as per-field-in-near-real-time. It provides “Knowledge for Free” to growers & partners and “Decisions for a Fee” to stakeholders across the entire crop value chain.

These services aim to improve the efficiency of economic, technical, social and environmental processes.

Government support and funding
A project proposal was successfully submitted to the UK Space Agency in 2017 for four million pounds of funding in the International Partnership Program (IPP2).

EcoProMIS received this funding in order to improve the productivity and profitability of rice and oil palm growers in Colombia while minimising environmental impact and improving socio-economic conditions of the crops’ stakeholders.

From February 2018 onwards Agricompas and six partners including Pixalytics (UK), Cenipalma, CIAT, Fedearroz, IWCO and Solidaridad (Colombia) have been executing the 50-month project in Colombia with a delivery date by end March 2022.

Thereafter Agricompas will continue to operate the “commercial” EcoProMIS platform for the benefit of its users – partners such as the 16,000 rice growers, 5,000 palm growers and their federations and customers such as the input and & equipment manufacturers, traders & processors, banks & insurers, wholesalers & distributors, and governments & NGOs.

Taking action
During the last two years we have been installing professional equipment to collect weather and greenhouse gas data at four different locations across Colombia. We are building cloud-based IT architecture and applications to process data with machine learning and Artificial Intelligence into knowledge.

We are developing completely new offerings and testing these with prospective customers in a solid business model, while aware that this is a massively complex and ambitious project.

During the next two years we will continue to refine and optimise data collection, deepen the data processing, and test our offerings and business model.

Communicating our work
We want to share the exciting and ambitious work that we are doing. That is why, from now on each of the project partners will write a series of regular blogs about their organisation, activities, experiences and objectives within the EcoProMIS project.

Over the past two years, we have attended numerous expos and agricultural forums to share about our work.

Roelof Kramer, CEO, at Expo

Roelof Kramer, the EcoProMIS project lead and Agricompas CEO, in the British Embassy stand at the Agrofuturo 2019 exhibition in Medellin, Colombia

 

Hope for a better future
Yes, the world is going through a rough time and it is very depressing that even with our good intentions sustainable agriculture currently doesn’t exist. Across the world, we lack the comprehensive and detailed data collection, and the processing of data into knowledge and viable business models to offer services that satisfy all crop system stakeholders.

EcoProMIS is more than “just another project” that finishes when the funding runs out. It is a solid promise that is being developed by motivated partners into a whole system approach that creates true sustainable agriculture: a system that supports poor and rich growers, unites commercial and non-commercial parties, and supports NGOs and governments.

That is something really fantastic to look forward to! I wish you and your family health, hope and happiness.