AgroU: the digital platform that brings together farmers and workers
by Danae Bersi, Content Creator, New Agriculture for a New Generation


AgroU, the missing link in the agri-food sector

Needless to say, that the recent coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed the way we operate, socialize and work. But at the same time, it has highlighted shortcomings and needs that we may not have been able to realize before. Kyriakos Nikolaides together with Kyriaki Chatzigeorgiou, during the pandemic saw an opportunity as they managed to respond to a basic need of the agri-food sector, that of connecting the primary sector with the active workforce.

Kyriakos comes from Panagitsa, a mountain village in Edessa, while Kyriaki comes from Thessaloniki, where she studied Applied Informatics at the University of Macedonia. The two met 5 years ago as they were fellow athletes.

Kyriakos has graduated from the Department of Agriculture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and works as an agronomist. "I come from a rural family," he tells me. "As I am also a farmer, I was able to see the problems that a farmer faces from a very young age. One of them is the inability to find a skilled workforce when you want it. During the harvest season, for example, the problem becomes particularly difficult."

Although Kyriaki’s studies are focused mainly on computer science, she told me that she has always been interested in the agri-food sector. While talking with Kyriakos and other young people from all over Europe as part of their participation in an Erasmus program in Romania, she had the opportunity to see the problems faced by workers in the industry and to recognize the importance of solving them.

Thus, gradually came the idea of creating a platform that brings together farmers and people looking for work in the industry. The AgroU platform operates as this link and is fully accessible via the internet.The service, which started operating on April 1st, currently serves Greece and so far, has over 4,350 applications from employees as well as 669 applications from farmers. In addition, it has managed to fill 931 jobs and has served at least 3 agricultural cooperatives.

"Because we started in the middle of the pandemic, we decided to slightly modify the plaform to serve as many farmers as possible. We wanted our service to serve all the people who are active in the industry ", says Kyriaki. Now AgroU can bring farmers in contact not only with food technologists, people who have studied animal production, agriculturists and so on. “

The relationship with the "New Agriculture for a New Generation" program

As they both tell me, they have long been actively involved in various activities of the " New Agriculture for a New Generation " program, which they believe has provided them with important skills so that they can create and develop their platform. As Kyriakos tells me, participating in the Regeneration Academy For Food Innovation program of the "New Agriculture for a New Generation" program, he met the needs of the food industries and understood their needs for specialized personnel.

Both Kyriakos and Kyriaki, in addition to their participation in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation, have attended the training program on Propagating Material, which took place in Naoussa. The team also participated in this year's Trophy-Τροφή Challenge and has been selected to participate in the Agrifood Accelerator "Agroanelixis", where they are now in the first phase, that of training, guidance, and counseling.

"Our participation in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation was a really beautiful experience, we met very remarkable people and each of them spoke to us about the field in which he operates, giving us knowledge and necessary information", Kyriakos told me while adding that "equally important for me, of course, is meeting other people like us who are active in the industry and with whom, who knows, one day we may work together!"

As for their recent participation in the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge, where they competed in the Agri-tech category, Kyriaki tells me that “While at the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge we needed to better structure our presentation, and that is something really useful. We were able to use all this knowledge to prepare a presentation, which we can now show to investors. For me, that was very important."

Their last participation in the program of the Agrifood Accelerator "Agroanelixis", seems to make them excited as they look forward for their next steps. "It is a fun way of learning. We discover day by day things about our service, which we had never thought of!", Kyriakos told me laughing. "Mentors play a key role in this, giving us advice. We have learned many new things about our online presence and of course we have discovered some of our potential weaknesses, with the aim of improving them ".

Looking ahead to the future

Kyriaki and Kyriakos are perhaps one of the few who seem to have been helped by the pandemic as the demand for their service increased significantly. However, it seems that the service offered by AgroU does not just cover a seasonal temporary need, since the platform already has applications from producers who are looking for staff for the coming winter. As Kyriaki characteristically told me, "Although perhaps the covid-19 pandemic helped our platform to stand out, we offer a solution to a problem that is timeless, it’s not just about this difficult season”.

"We want to build a network of people, inside and outside Greece. To help the farmers, at all stages of the production process ", Kyriakos tells me. "Besides, it is through crises, such as this one, that it becomes obvious that our country needs to be more autonomous and self-sufficient. And this can only happen if we invest in the agri-food sector ".

The team wants to give an alternative to people who may not have a job. Through their platform, they invite them to discover the agri-food industry and get in direct contact with it and its needs. "Our dream is for the farmers to be able to see the product they imagine being implemented, through the help of specialized staff, who will give them advice and guide them. And all this, through our service", Kyriaki tells me before our conversation comes to an end.

It is a fact that in addition to tourism, our country can have rich agricultural production. Services such as AgroU, in addition to innovation and simplification of procedures, invite us to listen to a potential need. A need for turning to the agri-food sector once again.