It is a multi-award winning and internationally renowned olive oil, which is produced at low cost and has managed to win the largest markets in the world such as the US and Japan. We are referring to the olive oil of Yanni’s Olive Grove in Nea Potidea, Halkidiki, Greece and the people behind it, Mr. Yiannis Prodromou and his wife Mrs. Evi Psounou-Prodromou. Since 2015, the two farmers have managed to reduce production costs by 30%, while at the same time increasing their sales. If one wonders what lies behind this award-wining olive oil, the answer is one: personal work and technology.
Evi, speaking in “YC”, points out that Yanni’s Olive Grove was one of the first, which in 2015 installed the gaiasense smart farming system and since 2017 makes use of its services that were enhanced with the use of Big Data technologies within the Horizon 2020 DataBio project. “We were the first farmers in Greece who, following a proposal from the American Farm School of Thessaloniki with which we have a direct collaboration because Yiannis is a graduate of its Olive Center. In this context, we installed two telemetric weather stations in our farm, which spans in around 21.4 hectares. Once the system was installed, we started recording our agricultural activities, when and how much we fertilize, irrigate or spray against pests/diseases. Now, during the third year of the system’s implementation, we follow the advice generated by the system.”
The desire of the two farmers to produce a perfect fruit and their willingness to differentiate themselves from the rest led to the immediate adoption of the system; by following the generated advice, they have managed to greatly reduce their production costs.
“Our cultivation is two-direction; we produce both table olives and olive oil, so we have two costs. One is for olive picking, as it is done by hand and the other is the cultivation cost. Regarding the cultivation cost, we have witnessed a significant reduction, which is over 30%. The most important thing, however, is that we have reduced the cost of irrigation, which is very important for Halkidiki, as for other parts of Greece, which exhibit a problem due to fresh water insufficiency. The sensors installed in the soil immediately warn us for the ground’s water content and the most appropriate irrigation time for the crop“, Evi said.
The use of the gaiasense smart farming system, which led to cost reduction, was also the reason for an increase in sales as the two farmers decided to incorporate this reduction to the final product.
“As a standardization company for olive oil and table olives, we decided to hand over the last year’s profits to the product. This allowed us to lower the price of the product, making it much more competitive. We managed to start selling much more“, Evi said.
Even more important from accessing information related to cultivation practices is gaiasense’s ability to provide notifications of any disease threatening crops before it causes any damage. Evi stresses that “one of the diseases we have here in our trees is the Cycloconium (Cycloconium oleaginum). Cycloconium is related to relative humidity, which is increased due to our location near the sea. The gaiasense system, therefore, “raises an alarm”, telling us to be careful, as this disease approaches. In a while, for example, this alarm will be raised for the olive fruit fly (Dacus oleae) as well. It gives us time to take action before we suffer any damage.”
The decision of the two farmers to listen to the advice of the American Farm School of Thessaloniki and to use the gaiasense system is part of their overall character and of their ambition to offer the best they can for their farm. “The more accurately you treat your farm, the better the result will be. We have learned that as technology advances, we must also proceed to partnerships with the right partners“, Evi said.
The aforementioned logic along with the hard work of the two farmers contributed to achieving the best possible quality for the product, which is measurable. “From 2015 to today, we have over 45 international top prizes from the world’s largest olive oil competitions. The latest is the golden award we got in New York. ”
Success, however, does not end there. This cultivation program was able to open the doors of the foreign markets and to welcome products of the company that are not in circulation in Greece. “We produce an olives snack without salt and sugar. This has resulted in the largest importer of Greek products in North America today to trust us and label our products“, Evi concludes. Recently, Yanni’s Olive Grove products also travel to the Japanese market.