Despite the ongoing debate of whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, the avocado has been an export hit around the globe. Avocados are grown in the southern hemisphere but are immensely popular in countries where they cannot be harvested. There is also growing consumer awareness that intensive avocado farming leads to environmental issues in the countries of origin.
‘Driving through the rural areas of Chile, you will notice how severely the country has been going through a major drought during the last five to seven years,’ Nikita Gulin says. ‘Part of it is due to climate change, but it cannot be denied that intensive farming is adding to the problem.’ Chile’s GDP relies heavily on agriculture. Apart from avocados, food crops include blueberries, cherries, and walnuts. ‘Water efficiency is a huge topic for Chilean farmers and the country as a whole.’
For Gulin, Aganimo’s Russian-born founder and CEO, and his Chilean co-founder, CTO Sergio Esteban, this was an obvious problem to tackle.
‘In Chile, everybody knows someone working in the agricultural sector, whether it’s an uncle or the friend of a friend,’ Esteban says. ‘When we looked at the problem and solutions already available, it became clear that there was much room for improvement by means of technology – and we had the skills to do that.’
To combine their technical knowledge with research on agriculture, they made contact with academia. ‘The University of Chile immediately wanted to collaborate,’ Gulin says. Agranimo has 10 employees located in Chile, Russia, and Germany with backgrounds in technology, research, and practical experience in agriculture.
‘Chile is not the only country with this problem,’ Gulin explains, ‘It’s really all over the world – water is rare. From our first application for water efficiency, our vision grew as we expanded to more climate-related issues. Water is still one of the key components, but we are now working with any information that can be derived from climate and soil data.’