Paolin Pascot (Agriconomie): “Farmers are entrepreneurs who want to be masters of their own destiny”

by bold-lichterman

According to a study by BVA and Ticagri, 74% of farmers are now equipped with a computer. 67% of them have already installed an application on their phone. These different tools allow them to consult pages and websites that are useful to them on a daily basis for their farming operation. What do we actually offer to farmers on a digital level?

More details with Paolin Pascot, founder and CEO of Agriconomie and co-founder of La Ferme Digitale.

FrenchWeb: How can the provision of digital solutions in agriculture seem essential today?

paolin-pascot-agriconomie-2016Paolin Pascot, founder and CEO of Agriconomie and co-founder of La Ferme Digitale: The provision of digital solutions in the field of agriculture is essential to improve the competitiveness of our farmers.

A farmer is an entrepreneur with many hats and a true entrepreneur who must be competent in all areas: agronomy, agricultural technique, management, finance, sales, mechanics … In addition to that, he must manage a multitude of external factors complex that have a crucial impact on its business, its productions and therefore its income: climate, world market prices, geopolitics.

For these two reasons, digital technology and all its solutions help the farmer on a daily basis and allow him to better manage his profession, his business and his decision-making. It should be noted that this socio-professional category is already extremely connected: 86% of farmers are connected, but they still have few digital services to meet their needs.

Access to information, online decision support tools, saas services, connected objects, crowdfunding or e-commerce are necessary solutions for agriculture today and are all tools that can already improve the competitiveness of our farmers.

Finally, the question is not whether digital is essential for agriculture, but how digital will allow our agriculture to gain competitiveness points and our farmers to improve their daily lives and especially their income.

How is technology evolving in this environment?

Technologies are taking more and more place on farms and will continue to develop. However, these technologies must be integrated more quickly by the large agricultural and agrifood groups, which have a strong influence on farmers and the entire ecosystem. These technologies are disrupting the achievements and business models of large groups, particularly in distribution, some of which have been stationary for over 60 years and do not want to hear about innovation or digital.

Renewal is needed and it is necessary to take advantage of the advantages that new technologies will bring in order to improve the competitiveness of our agriculture. To succeed in breaking through and creating ever more value, technologies will have to be combined, in part, with the historical know-how of traditional players.

Agriculture is not a field of activity that will be greatly disrupted by a technology, an application, like taxis with Uber. The farmer needs a local, territorial anchoring, proximity advice, the historical experience of his traditional actors. New technologies will write the future by moving forward, in part, with the historical makers of agriculture such as cooperatives or businesses. This development will require strong partnerships between start-ups and groups in the sector, at least in France.

Today, in addition to his Swiss army knife in his pocket, the farmer still has his smartphone which allows him to glean important information, start equipment remotely, check the welfare of his animals, collect data and make decisions at the right time.

The use of drones and sensors in the soil make it possible to collect a certain amount of information which offers the farmer new prospects for optimization never imagined before. This knowledge contribution made possible by new technologies is a definite asset, both financially and environmentally.

Agricultural technologies and innovation are starting to be considered more and more. We see start-up villages appearing at all agricultural shows, large groups launching incubators, investment funds specializing in AgTech, associations being created on the subject and the media taking an interest in it. Like La Ferme Digitale, an association that brings together the main French AgTech start-ups and which promises to promote innovation and digital technology for more efficient and sustainable agriculture.

What are the new things to come?

This year, we will see the development of new start-ups and also innovations in large groups that will allow the sector to reinvent itself and progress sustainably.

French agriculture is going through a real transformation which is not about to stop. We are convinced that in France, with the talents we have, we can become the heart of agricultural innovation in the world.

In France, we have a passion for the land, we benefit from the know-how of some of the most competent farmers in the world and from the talents who will transform our creativity into creating value for the sector.

What is the agricultural world lacking today in terms of technology and digital?

Today, what the agricultural world lacks is not necessarily linked to technology or digital. We need awareness on the part of our policies and the entire ecosystem to promote innovation and participate in the transition of farmers.

For example, within certain large groups in the sector, they must become aware of the technological challenges in order to build and position France as champions of agricultural innovation.

We must also start listening to the needs of farmers and stop thinking for them; farmers are entrepreneurs who want to be masters of their own destiny and who are surely the first innovators in the sector. Let’s listen to them and create with them.

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