Roeland Coopman: «With help of Agrifac we intend to help farmers increase yields and reduce the foodprint»
UCAB has recently incorporated Agrifac. Roeland Coopman, Chief Commercial Officer of Agrifac, spoke about the products the company is going to enter the Ukrainian market with as well as future plans for cooperation with the domestic farmers.
Please tell us about your company. How long have you been in the market? What is the company's business concentrated on?
The history of Agrifac dates back to 1938 with the production of backpack sprayers. After almost 100 years of transformations and improvements, the company started producing high-tech self-propelled sprayers since 1980. The main plant for machinery manufacturing is located in the Netherlands and this is where all the ideas concerning production of new technologies of the company have arisen.
The experts of the company are always guided by customer needs. It is a well-established fact that the Netherlands is a state where agricultural industry is one of the main sectors of the economy, and the price per hectare of land can reach EUR 125,000. Therefore, our customers always encourage us to develop new technologies through which they can have maximum yield on this land.
This philosophy began to spread around the world when Dutch farmers went to work in other countries, and needing to have good equipment requested us to provide them with our machinery. Agrifac products are now available in more than 40 countries around the world where we have distribution partners as well as representative offices in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Each Agrifac machine and its application are elaborated according to the 4e concept for farmers comprising efficiency, economy, ergonomics and environment, and we treat it as a decisive factor in everything we produce. It enables Agrifac to meet and exceed customer needs, leading to global innovation and technology advantage.
What products are you planning primarily to present in Ukraine?
Our distributors have been working in Ukraine for 7 years. It is worth noting that initially Ukraine was not a target market, as we had only one dealer here. But gradually we began to expand. More than a year ago, we took a decision to investigate in more details how the agriculture and machinery market are developing in Ukraine and what consumer sentiment is. We are currently aimed at this market and putting in place important steps to enter it.
We intend to provide Ukrainian farmers with access to high-performance machinery to cultivate more land in less time. The main products we are planning to introduce to the market include powerful and highly efficient machinery, both beet harvesters and self-propelled sprayers, which will be able to cultivate large areas in the short time, as well as high-clearance machinery, which do not damage crops while passing through the field, for example, when spraying sunflower or corn.
Our customers are primarily highly-profitable companies that are in demand for fast and reliable sprayers. Although Agrifac machinery is quite expensive, it has 30% more production capacity.
I am convinced that the most satisfied customers are the owners who operate their machinery in the field by themselves, since they can understand how well the machine performs. Therefore, our equipment may also be interesting to average farmers who cultivate 3-5 thousand hectares. .
What trends do you observe in the markets of the world and Ukraine?
Our world is facing a rapidly growing population that will double the demand for food over the next 20 years. Making agriculture more sustainable is a crucial point in all the challenges we face. With the help of our machinery we strive to increase yields while reducing application of chemicals.
Recent challenges include new European legislation under the Green Deal concerning reduction of environmental impact, groundwater protection and chemicals application. Therefore, we are supposed to adhere to very high standards in manufacturing of our equipment, and for many years we have been offering highly efficient sprayers on the market meeting the environmental requirements and at the same time remaining profitable for farmers.
What difficulties have you faced while doing business in Ukraine?
The first thing I would like to highlight in the Ukrainian market is a decision-making structure in agricultural holdings. The companies are so large that it is difficult to understand all levels of their operation and who makes the final decision. It is also worth noting that in Ukraine there is a long decision-making process.
Secondly, the technologies we are introducing are quite new to the Ukrainian market, and it sometimes concerns people. Here we have to make more efforts comparing with other countries since the Ukrainians believe that their market is different from other markets. But this is not the case. Indeed the agriculture of Ukraine has its own challenges of climate change and legislation, but other countries in Europe or the world have the same challenges as well. We manufacture a global product tailored to country specific needs.
Please tell us about last year's achievements and plans for the coming years
Our business has not been influenced by COVID, and last year was successful for us leading to the company’s growth by 15%. We have had no problems with supplies and logistics as our main suppliers are concentrated in Europe. Agrifac has started investing in both the Ukrainian and US markets. These are two areas we are intending to develop in the coming years.
Why did you join UCAB? What are your expectations from cooperation?
We are actively operating in 40 countries, Agrifac is interested in sharing its knowledge with the world to help farmers become better. The Netherlands is a small country but at the same time it is among the world's top exporters of agricultural products. We have an internal motivation to bring this knowledge to the Ukrainian market. The Netherlands is one of the biggest importers of Ukrainian agricultural products. We hope that together with UCAB and the embassy we will be able to build a knowledge centre where we can help farmers and people of Ukraine to become more successful, have higher yields as well as improve their lives.