My company Tanibox is developing agriculture software for two years. We focus on Tania, our open source farm management software. We love growing plants, but we–all co-founders of Tanibox–never touch agriculture as an industry before Tanibox exist. So, we jumped to agriculture technology industry by trial and error. Here are some interesting insights from a couple of years building an open source software for agriculture to share with you.
1. Most farmers are old and not a tech-savvy
We build open source software. Our early adopter is mostly a software or hardware developer and tech enthusiast coming from several countries. The countries that I can notice because they are active in our forum: Indonesia, India, USA, UK, UAE, Hungary, Tajikistan, Canada, France, Sweden, Lithuania, and Brazil. Since we get hundreds of download for this couple of years, perhaps there are more people from other countries, but they are not active in the forum so that I can’t notice.
Some of the early adopters are the developer that wants to sell and distribute our software to the farmer in their country. Most of them told the same issue that is hard to convince the farmer to digitalise their operation because most of the farmers are old and not tech-savvy. We also get that issue when introducing the software here in Indonesia.
The solution for this is to approach the younger farmer because they are more open-minded than the old one and we must lower barriers to entry of the solution.
2. Digitalisation won’t promise rich
“If I use your software, how many yields and profit it can increase? When is the break-even point? “, this type of question is usually coming from my country, Indonesia. It’s hard to answer because it depends on your business operation. Digitalisation will help you to record your farm operation better. Then you can analyse which aspect of your farm to make it more efficient after several growing cycles.
Anyway, do you ask Microsoft with this type of question, “Hey, if I buy your Windows license, how many % of profit you can increase for me?”.
3. Localisation is important
If you want to target the global market, you have to think about the localisation of your software since day one. Our mistake was not doing this as early as possible, so our market penetration is a little bit slow. Lucky for us, there are not many open source software for agriculture in the market. We support localisation in Tania 2 years after launch in version 1.6.
Even for the European market, most people including us are thinking of Europe as a single market. Yes, it is for a few aspects. But, Europe consists of many languages and most of the farmers, especially in the countryside, don’t speak English.
4. Offline first
The countryside and the rural area are farms mostly located. The online connectivity can be an issue there. If you are building something for agriculture, think offline first. We do it when developing Tania.
5. Most of the world’s farms are small and family-run
In terms of volume, it means this type of farmer is the lucrative market. It spreads across the globe. But, chasing this type of farmer is challenging though because the small-holder farmer is usually price-sensitive. The cost of your solution should be as low as possible.
Agriculture is the slowest industry that adapts the new technology. I hope these insights are useful for anyone interested to jump in into building an agriculture technology solution.