This is the story of a duo, based on the deplorable realization that water scarcity affects crops, making conventional farming methods inefficient and not guaranteeing stable incomes for African farmers, still too dependent on the climate.
Graduated in industrial engineering from the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) Centre-Val de Loire in 2012, completed by a Masters in Management at Skema Business School (Lille) and an MBA obtained at EDHEC Business School (Roubaix), Amina Derj has accumulated experience in Europe in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors.
your partner, Yassine Mohcine, combines skills in finance and entrepreneurship. After graduating with a degree in finance and accounting from Mohammed V University in Rabat in 2016, he continued with a master’s degree in entrepreneurship at the University of Tampa, Florida. In 2017, he started his own business in the United States and Germany, mainly focusing on digital and artificial intelligence.
Amine Derj and Yassine Mohcine say they are convinced that, faced with a harsh environment, the predominance of desert lands and small farms, it is necessary to find a sustainable solution for a more resilient and accessible agriculture for the greatest number.
The two co-founders then embarked on the design of neo-farms that favor production in a controlled and orderly space, thanks to an above-ground growing solution coupled with IoT (internet of things). Depending on the type of culture, these Connected turnkey greenhouses can guarantee consistent production all year round.
End goal? Democratize agriculture in a controlled environment, reducing dependence on water and soil quality to produce healthy and high value-added products. “We want to enable all types of farmers to have access to modern technologies for resilient and sustainable agriculture, which saves 80% of water and 60% of fertilizers compared to conventional agriculture, avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides”, says Amine Derj. , co-founder of Jodoor.
Furthermore, “what we do on an area of 10,000 m² in conventional agriculture can be done on 1,000 m² with our technology; in other words, a factor of 10 in productivity”, agrees this engineer. If the initial investment is certainly significant, Jodoor guarantees a return on investment in less than two years and an average installation of three months.
A technology in the UM6P’s radars
In concrete terms, these connected greenhouses, specialized in leafy vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plantsoffer a wide choice of functionalities in terms of cultivation, irrigation and monitoring, allowing them to adapt to all types of climate.
Each greenhouse is manufactured and equipped according to the problems, needs and means of each farmer and according to the conditions of each region. It comes with “its above-ground horizontal production systems, its irrigation system, its automata and its various sensors”, specifies Amine Derj.
The sensors are implemented at different points, both in the irrigation station and in the production system. “The decision support software facilitates the collection of data to constantly optimize production parameters, promotes the improvement of the solution’s performance and allows the autonomy of the greenhouse and personalized support to the farmer”, he promises.
currently in phase boot, Jodoor has already developed two ready-to-use greenhouses. The first was launched in winter 2021. It covers 300 m² on a farm in Skhirat. “It’s our Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which we’re in the process of refining into a complete model. That’s why we started producing and selling to the local market to control the entire value chain”, explains Amine Derj. For now, cultivation is limited to leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach or kale. Other types of plants with higher added value, such as “aromatic and medicinal plants, are considered in our growth and diversification plan”.
The project for this greenhouse required the mobilization of personal funds from the two co-founders, the Caisse centrale de garantie (CCG) Innov-Start program, and a Rotary award.
The concept has already interested many institutions, including the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P). Jodoor will also build its second greenhouse there, which should allow it to “install more elaborate technology in the coming months”, underlines Amine Derj.
The objective is to validate the technology within the university’s experimental farm, the Center for Innovation and Agricultural Technology Transfer (AITTC), in collaboration with researchers from the latter. “UM6P, committed to sustainable and resilient agriculture, is incubating our start-up at Startgate, its innovation campus, and has provided us with the necessary farmland and technical support to develop our partnership. This co-developed greenhouse will be the showroom that will start the official commercial implementation”, announces the entrepreneur.
Today, the start-up is investing in improving its concept and plans to extend its model to other agricultural products. Its international vision is as follows: “Once our model has been implemented and perfected in Morocco, we intend to international growth, starting with the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and then Africa, with the problems of water scarcity and food sovereignty being common to our neighbours. Our current partners believe in the potential of our solution and participate with us in the democratization of agriculture in a controlled environment Made in Morocco and for Africa. I invite all public, private and academic actors, as well as entrepreneurs, to join us to work together to build the resilient agriculture that Morocco and Africa need”, concludes Amine Derj.