How Gro Intelligence Is Revolutionizing the Agricultural Supply Chain

Ukrainian agribusiness
Corn production, storage and export from Ukraine
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The shadow of climate change looms large and lack of information means that the agricultural sector is ill-equipped to handle it. Could Gro Intelligence hold the solution in the form of Big Data?

How do we adapt to rapidly shifting climates? How can we make the most profit on our products while avoiding soil degradation? How can we ensure the long term viability of the agricultural sector? These challenges keep some of the greatest minds in agriculture awake at night.

A Big Data firm, Gro Intelligence, might hold the key to securing the food supply chain for the future in Ukraine and around the world.

What Does Big Data Have to Do With Agriculture?

While most people associate Big Data with tech giants like Alphabet’s Google, it has applications in just about every industry imaginable. Everything we do, every change in our environment, even consumer shopping habits, can all be broken down into data points.

On their own, these points can’t do much. But when taken together, and properly analyzed, they can be revolutionary. More specifically, Big Data analytics can provide unique insights that fundamentally change the way the agricultural sector works, from planting to hedging.

This is exactly why Gro Intelligence was founded. Founded by former Morgan Stanley commodities broker Sara Menker, Gro Intelligence is big data for agriculture. Its true product is clarity — for all stakeholders in food supply chains.

Sara Menker

Better decision-making can cut input costs, boost crop yields, increase profitability, grow trade, inform policy, and make the food supply chain more resilient, stable, and predictable.

Gro Intelligence collects global data about everything from the moisture content of the soil, to weather, pests, price predictions, import-export data and more. It then uses these trillions of data points to produce over 1,000 models that can help companies make better decisions.

What Do These Models Look Like?

Data on its own is often more than worthless: it is often misleading. It is the analysis and models that make data actionable. Gro intelligence produces models in a variety of frameworks but they can broadly be broken down into the following categories:

  • Price: Where and how you can make the most money on your products
  • Demand: Where your products will be in the highest demand
  • Supply: Where a crop is grown and how it will develop in the future
  • Pests and disease: How a region or crop is likely to be adversely impacted by pests and disease
  • Weather and Climate: Models forecast the impact of climate events or climate change on crop yields
  • Crop Masks: assist with crop yield forecasting for important crop types and regions

These models are built using machine learning and are designed to make it easier for agricultural professionals to make more informed decisions.

This can be leveraged by every sub-sector of the agricultural industry and represents a powerful tool to help manage complicated agri-businesses.

How Could Gro Intelligence Help the Ukrainian Agricultural Sector?

Infographic guide Ukrainian Agribusiness 2019/20


It’s difficult to overstate just how important agriculture is to the Ukrainian economy. Sixty percent of all Ukrainian land is made up of prized black soil. This is roughly 30% of all the world's black soil.

Ukraine has been making admirable progress over the past decade achieving record crop yields. Making the right decisions about using this rich soil is critical in terms of production, subsidies, and exports.

Take the example of exports. The country’s top three exports in terms of volume are sunflower seed and oil, corn, and wheat. Of these, oil seeds are the most profitable crop. The Ukrainian government could theoretically take advantage of Gro Intelligence’s models to target subsidies at crop varieties that are likely to command high export prices, thus protecting Ukraine’s long-term prospects.

Export of Ukrainian ag commodities (click for full resolution)

Another example is in climate change mitigation. Ukraine is primarily at risk from rising heat and drought. While increased warmth could benefit the northern areas, Ukraine is highly vulnerable to reduced rainfall.

Only 6% of the country is properly irrigated and the agricultural sector is highly reliant on rainfall, so any drought would decimate crop yields. Additionally, over-intensive agriculture since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 has slowly degraded the fertile black soil in the nation, posing a long term risk to the country’s agricultural sector.

The Ukrainian farming industry could use Gro Intelligence to help model soil degradation. This would enable them to target areas that need soil regeneration efforts, and to sell these necessary procedures to the government and local farmers. Additionally, Gro Intelligence’s climate change models, particularly rainfall, could help the government prioritize new irrigation projects.

Drought in Ukraine

How else might Gro Intelligence be used?

  • Weather risk management for farmers.
  • Since agriculture is such a large part of the Ukrainian economy, forecasting prices is important. Price information may also inform government policies. The platform also uses export data and crop calendars to predict pricing.
  • Forecasting prices and forecasting crop yields are interrelated.
  • Gro Intelligence models predict crop yields (See these wheat yield models for India and Ukraine). The platform updates daily yield predictions for 5 major wheat-producing countries: Russia and Ukraine (winter wheat); US (hard red winter wheat), and wheat in India.
  • Gro Intelligence also offers a Black Sea Model of winter wheat yields, which combines data from Russia and Ukraine.

Learn more: TOP 10 Wheat Producing Countries in 2019

  • It’s important not only to have a reliable predictor of crop yields in Ukraine but being able to identify countries with a lower-than-normal yield of a particular crop (for example, due to drought), could present opportunities to sell to that country’s export partners. (As our readers know, there is significant competition amongst the world’s top wheat producers, to capture export markets.).
  • Gro Intelligence has a new model that tracks China’s push for food security, which might be of use to exporters in Ukraine. China is not a major export partner of Ukraine but that could change. Currently, over 4% of Ukraine’s exports go to China. Ukraine’s current exports to China include corn, seed oils, barley, wheat flour, frozen fruit and nuts, sorghum, spice seeds, and proceeds foods, such as baked goods, confectionery sugar, bran, chocolate, wine, and prepared cereals.

Big Data Will Help Secure Agricultural Supply Chains

The world will face significant challenges over the next few decades. Despite strong efforts to fight climate change, significant shifts in temperature and rainfall are all but inevitable. Unexpected events like the current pandemic, also are leading agricultural decision-makers to rethink forward planning.

Development of Ukraine's agro-industrial complex (click for full resolution)

The agricultural sector will need to use every tool at its disposal in order to prepare for its future, and that begins with Big Data solutions like those developed by Gro Intelligence.

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