The Uman National University of Horticulture is one of our key collaborators in Ukraine. We have collaborated with them since 2016, and they use our mobile application Petiole Pro for plant phenotyping on a permanent basis, writes Maryna Kuzmenko, CEO of Petiole, on LinkedIn in a summary of an event that took place on 15 June, organized by Agfunder.
You can find a link to the recording here.
Currently, the teaching staff is asked to have unpaid leave till the end of the summer and the future of the following study year is unclear. We are still in touch with some of the professors. Many already have financial difficulties supporting their families in the circumstances of growing prices for essentials in Ukraine. We work with Ternopil Volodymyr Hnatiuk National Pedagogical University. Notably, we have strong links with the BioChemical Department of this University. We have a few research papers, and our mobile application, Petiole Pro, helped them get data on their crops.
Now half of their time they spent helping with the needs of the territorial defense units and Ukrainian Army since some of the staff, students, and PhD researchers left their studies and jobs to defend Ukraine. They also don’t do any experiments and trials but still try to publish the results of experiments from the previous ones. It has to be said that the Agriculture Universities have been suffering even before the war. But now, it is even more complicated since all money goes to the military, and we absolutely must support this. But this also means that in the field of biology, the knowledge of rare plants and those on the edge of extinction will disappear. Also, the agronomy expertise for this specific geographical region will be significantly lost, which means a loss of knowledge in the climate change process as well.
And what about overall fragilities on a local and global level, which have appeared after the war in Ukraine? On a micro level, one of the biggest issues is the low adoption of agricultural technologies, which may help optimize food production. We work with the Agriculture Universities and research in Ukraine to grow a new generation of farmers and plant scientists who are ready to transform the way we work with plants. For example, the global community of plant researchers is actively using innovative methods for controlling Nitrogen levels in plants through regular measurement of chlorophyll content.
It is possible to do this with a smartphone, and that’s why we believe it is so important to bring this knowledge to the academia and industry in Ukraine. On a macro level, the situation we have now unveiled the problems in the existing global food supply chain system. Specifically, commodities like grain, corn, and sunflower seeds are moving around without transparency and flexibility.
This food crisis also shows a paradox that the country, which is one of the largest producers and exporters of critically important grains and vegetable oils, is poor, and money from all the trade goes to several layers of companies that sell and resell our grain, corn and sunflower seeds. One of the ways we can solve this problem is a solution built on blockchain for commodity trading. It may help with the decentralization and the discovery of monopolism and other negative aspects of global trade on each step and in numbers. Blockchain can help us understand who made the most profits in the supply chain. As of now, we can only guess.