Robots on dairy farms, drones that spread the trichogramm in corn fields and the unmanned tractors – it’s the present. What are we waiting for and to what we should be prepared in the nearest future? Agribusiness 4.0 - this is a new topic for discussion in the world agrarian community.
Association «Ukrainian Agribusiness Club» together with AgriEvent Agency held VIII International Conference «Large Farm Management» (LFM 4.0) on September 13-14 in Kyiv. This year the underlying theme of the event - Agribusiness of the future. At present, agriculture is becoming extremely technical thanks to its close interaction with many other areas of economic activity, which in turn creates a major challenge for agribusiness managers.
The best experts talked about innovation in management and technology during the conference LFM 4.0. Six sessions included such topics as: global developments in the future, changes in consumer behavior and sentiment of the agribusiness in recent years, transformations in human resources policy, financial and legal aspects of agribusiness management in 10 years.
The event brought together the unique experience of Ukrainian and world experts, practical tips and success stories from representatives of McKinsey, IMC, HarvEast, Credit Agricole Bank, IFC, FutureFood, Spike Trade, NCH, Lifecell, Agro-Region, Myronivsky Hliboproduct and many others.
Taras Vysotskyi, General Director of UCAB is convinced that a new post-industrial era will come in 10 years in Ukraine, which will rely on automation, precise technologies and calculations. “New trends are developing very rapidly in the global agrarian world. And if Ukraine wants to remain a global player, these changes should be introduced as soon as possible. So we decided to tell and discuss about the issue of future Ukrainian agribusiness. Large Farm Management is a conference of long-term vision, strategy with emphasis on large agribusinesses”, commented Taras Vysotskyi. On the first day of the conference were discussed the classical blocks: production, management. There were considered such topics as: trends, staff, control, automation, motivation, new tools.
Historically, the agrarian sector is very closed to new trends, conservative and minimally integrated with other industries. The participants of the conference convinced that everything is changing nowadays. The agrarian sector is becoming corporate. “At the conference, we figured out how to get maximum synergy from inter-sectorial interaction. After all, you can remain competitive and successful only by quickly and correctly identifying modern trends, realizing them, and integrating advanced technologies into their business processes,” – said General Director of UCAB.
Agribusiness 4.0 means the massive introduction of cyber-physics systems into production (industry 4.0), serving all human needs, such as labor and leisure. “Experts agreed with the opinion that digitization in agriculture is unstoppable, as in any other segment of the economy,” said Alex Lissitsa, President of UCAB – “Computerization and digitization will affect all areas of agrarian activity - from the transition of accountancy programs to digital (paperless) form and the refusal of cash and ending with full robotic dairy farms or unmanned control of the entire fleet of agricultural machinery.”
According to experts, the minimization of the risks of deteriorating processes because of the subjective human factor will take place, but even in the post-industrial era, the decision-making will rest with the people.
Alex Lissitsa believes that the main levers of influence on global products markets will remain religion, deterioration of the ecological situation and the spread of associated allergies and other diseases, identification of personality and belonging to a certain class.
Digitization of the sector leads to the search of specialists - both office and workers, who can handle with complex technology and systems. Agribusiness will come to the fact that the technician will be responsible for the quality of work: compliance with the speed regime, doses of fertilizing, etc. “This will lead to an optimization of the number of employees, but not to the complete disappearance of such posts,” - said Mariya Panchenko, HR Director at Mriya Agro Holding. During the session “Trends in Human Capital Management” Ms. Mariya spoke about the immediate future of the Ukrainian human capital market. “Today, the agronomist is responsible not only for the technological card at the formation stage, but also monitors its implementation specifically on the spot - controls the quality of the machine operator. Therefore, farm machinery operators now need not just be able to manage the machinery, but also to understand how it is programmed, what norms and requirements operate in various technical operations and control its work directly. Thereby, skills in IT and profound professional expertise in the field will definitely be needed in the future,” commented Mariya Panchenko.
Specially invited speaker at the LFM 4.0 was Luis Flavio from Brazil, an expert at McKinsey & Company with more than eleven years of experience in consulting. He spoke about the main factors of successful management of the company and changes in the organizational structures of agricultural companies in the world. According to Luis Flavio, one of the trends is the emergence of dynamic teams and fast management on a small scale. Luis Flavio noted that the 5 main factors for successful company management include: discipline; drive for excellence – continued dedicated effort, time and resource throughout organization for continued pursuit of improvements; relentless focus on major topics; balanced delegation; attention to details – comprehension and dedicated effort, time and resource for deep-dive views of the core operational topics.
Another invited speaker of the conference was Aivaras Abromavicius, former Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine. He spoke about the key steps that Ukraine should take to ensure sustainable long-term economic development and global success. In his opinion, it is necessary to de-monopolize the Ukrainian manufacturers. “Ukraine is already on the path of big industrial agriculture, in some cases - with deep processing, vertical integration, etc. Ukraine should not lose these positions. We have so much land that it will suffice for a small farmer too.” He considers that another important step is the land reform: “It can’t be done in one year. Even when I was in government, the land reform was not a priority. Such complex reform, as land reform, had to be done right away, when there was confidence of the population. If the land reform will be carried out, then in a very moderate scenario,” said Aivaras Abromavicius.
During the second day of the conference, the participants discussed the newest technologies that have already come to Ukraine and are actively used in leading companies. On the fields of Myronivsky Hliboproduct in the Kyiv region were demonstrated the most effective aggregates and technological solutions. There were demonstrated such machines as: seeders, subsoilers, loaders, plows and heavy disk harrows and also conducted a test drive of tractors. During the plenary session, leading experts in precision farming and R&D departments of Ukrainian and international companies talked about digital technology and Big Data in the agro-industrial sector.