gri Info Design’s app, AgriBus-NAVI, is a simple GPS guidance system to mount on agricultural machinery, allowing farmers to create straight and evenly spaced plow lines on large land plots. Farmers who operate large machinery often struggle to navigate efficiently, leading to excessive fertilizer and pesticide use and wasted seeding. Through the use of this technology, Agri Info Design is laying the groundwork for “cloud farming” and enhanced agricultural productivity. Founder and CEO Yasuyuki Hamada shares his thoughts on how building IT systems for farming can create greater empathy between farmers and consumers and lead to the production of more nutritious crops.
What inspired you to start this company?
When I was a researcher at the National Agricultural Research Organization in Japan, I specialized in vehicle informatics and the robotics of agricultural machinery. I developed the original model of AgriBus-NAVI for Windows PC, and one company commercialized a system with that application.
Unfortunately, no one purchased the system because of its cost, and the company decided to withdraw even though farmers were satisfied with the system. Though I believe these technologies are nearest to crops, fields, and growers and have the potential to change the world of agriculture, I could not reverse the decision. So I decided to build the system myself.
Why solve the issues you’re trying to solve?
Food is one of the most important things in life, shaping our bodies and greatly affecting our feelings and thoughts. Unfortunately, the interests of food producers do not match the interests of consumers. I worked as a civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries before engaging in vehicle informatics and robotics of agricultural machinery, but since then, I have been thinking about how to create empathy where none exists in the industry. The most important realization I’ve had is that by improving agricultural productivity we can create a more sympathetic relationship between farmers and consumers, which ultimately leads to the growth of crops with high nutritional value, good taste, and continuously affordable prices.
Why is your strategy unique?
Most companies currently providing GNSS guidance systems use their own and proprietary devices and are very expensive. In addition, companies that provide GNSS guidance applications for smart devices only provide GNSS devices as external options and do not support the machine control that farmers need. We are currently developing external devices that support mobile applications and cloud computing, as well as providing integrated machine control and GNSS functions. By installing on agricultural machines currently owned by farmers or built-in by agricultural machinery manufacturers, it is possible to add more advanced features at a lower cost.
What do you hope the world will look like as a result of your work?
We hope that both agricultural productivity and farmer profits improve, and we want to reduce the environmental burden associated with agricultural production by reducing the amount of fertilizer, pesticide, and fuel used. As the distance between consumers and farmers shrinks, we want to see greater mutual understanding and sympathy.
This company participated in Unreasonable Impact created with Barclays, the world’s first multi-year partnership focused on scaling up entrepreneurial solutions that will help employ thousands while solving some of our most pressing societal challenges.