Supported by the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project, Fruit Prom develops a mobile phone application which will initially alert 60 producers of strawberries about potential pest infestation or fruit diseases using agrometeorological data, and create plans for soil fertilization based on individual parcel analysis. This should help them reduce production costs and increase revenues to almost BAM 2.8 million a year.

"We spend a lot of time if the field, working with and advising farmers. That is how we learn about their needs. One of those was the exact and timely information about when they should spray and protect their fruit and when and what kind of fertilizer they should use," says Armin Terzić. “This gave us the idea to develop a mobile application that would do just that,” he adds.

Armin is a Head of Production at Fruit Prom, from Koraj (Lopare), Northeastern BiH. The company, established in 2016, is now one of the leading producers of strawberries seedlings in the country with a production capacity of 700,000 seedlings a year. They also grow strawberries and trade in other fruit cultivation materials and equipment. With the support of the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project, they are now developing the Smartberry application and installing an agrometeorological station. The two will provide invaluable information to strawberry framers in Lopare and Čelić municipalities, and Brčko District, and help them increase their production at lower costs.

Agro-meteorological station and the Smartberry

According to Armin, the agrometeorological data can be used to determine when certain insects may infest strawberries or when fruit may be prone to diseases.

"We will install an agrometeorological station in our orchard. It will measure the temperature and humidity of air, soil, and plants. It will also measure winds and count the insects. It will be providing some ten sets of data, ten parameters, which will be analyzed by the Smartberry application. The application will inform the farmers about the potential danger to their strawberry fields and what kind of protective measures they need to take and when," he says. “Based on the soil analysis data, the application will also produce an optimal fertilization plan for each farm.”

Armin explains that all this information will enable the farmers to buy and use protection sprays only when necessary, as opposed to conducting preventive spraying of orchards as advised by many agricultural pharmacists. "Data on humidity will help farmers to timely react to and prevent fruit diseases such as rotting of root or fruit. Together with the optimized fertilization, this will lead to an increase in yields."

He notes that they are looking to achieve 15 percent higher yields across the board and to lower the costs of remedies by 20 percent by optimizing their use.

In plain numbers this means that 60 farmers in Lopare, Čelić, and Brčko should be able to increase their production of strawberries from 1,000 to 1,150 tons, increase the overall after-sale revenues to almost BAM 2.8 million, and lower the overall costs of remedies from estimated BAM 300,000 to 240,000 a year.

Keeping farmers up to date

The introduction of any innovation requires education. Fruit Prom, supported by the FARMA II project, will thus organize three training courses for the farmers on the use of the Smartberry application, proper protection of plants, and the use of fertilizers.

"We will run our training courses successively to refresh the farmers' knowledge about the plant protection and soil fertilization, and we will train them on the use of the application and alerts it will be sending to them,” says Armin. Once the training courses are completed, Fruit Prom will visit framers to provide on sight coaching on the use of the application and enable them to enjoy its benefits.

Smartberry goes national

Armin says that many are looking forward to lower costs and higher yields. "Not so long ago we published the information about the upcoming Smartberry application on our social media channels and we are already getting inquiries about it from different parts of the country such as Krajina and Southern Hercegovina. They would, of course, have to install their agro-metrological stations but we are already talking about the ways they could use the application."

Smartberry is the first BiH application designed to help strawberry producers. In parallel to this, the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project is also supporting the development of the ICT solutions that will support dairy producers and beekeepers.