The possibilities of technologies for the development of sustainable agriculture and food production were among the topics discussed on the last day of the “Green Week 2023” forum in Sofia. The three-day forum, dedicated to the green transition in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and energy connectivity, green financing and innovation, is organized by dir.bg and 3E News. BTA is the media partner of the conference.
Ralitsa Zhekova, Head of the Regional Agency for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Varna, noted the importance of skills and education for the development of a competitive agricultural sector. She pointed out that together with the Agricultural University they are trying to fill a funding gap aimed at startups in the sector, and noted the opportunities for this through participation in various programs.
“We are trying to connect representatives of the local and regional ecosystem by creating contacts between them to collaborate and share their expertise,” Zhekova said.
“The ultimate goal is to be able to help develop a competitive agricultural sector, to develop skills through programs that are open and represent innovation financing,” she pointed out.
The green transition is important, we have an education programme to adapt to the changes, said Marcel Ionescu, CEO of the Romanian company Agricloud. The company helps farmers with solution reports that alert them days before irreversible damage occurs to their crops, leaving them time to intervene. This is done through technology based on sensors and drones that monitor crops and provide data to an app that broadcasts signals in real time.
There are challenges ahead in terms of climate change, rising agricultural prices and production costs. The key is technology, Ionescu said. He stressed that the integration of technology in agriculture must be well understood. It is important to understand how food production will change in the next 50 years relative to what we have been used to in the last 200 years, he added. Ionescu commented that there is also a lot of resistance to change. Farmers know how to grow crops, how to take care of crops, but technology is new to them and it is important to convince them that we will have increased productivity, with up to 10 percent higher yields, through the use of technology, Ionescu said. All over the world, farmers have a labour problem, so it is important to resort to agritech, he added.