Big businesses trading in citrus fruits tend to remain stuck in the past, but in 2017, serendipity brought Martina Drobná into contact with biologist and entomologist, Dr. Bruno Gábel. Drobná is a Slovakian-based graphic designer and coordinator of the CITRUS-PORT project.
When the two met, Gábel explained how his hand-written calculations had helped local grape growers by forecasting likely disease risk at different times. This meant producers could target spraying when treating their crops and they didn't need to spray continuously as they had in the past.
Together with IT entrepreneur Roman Korbačka they created a website and app called VitiPort. "Our aim was to create a decision support system that could advise growers on whether or when to treat crops," she explained. Calling themselves VitiGroup, the trio have since commercialized Vitiport, and have also developed a sister platform, Genimen-port, for apples and pears.
Now they are using the same technology to help citrus growers of, for example, lemons, grapefruit and oranges, many of whom are based in Mediterranean countries.