The viticulture sector is constantly developing, so it comes as no surprise that digitalization is already playing a very important role in the latest agricultural practices. And since digital transformation has become one of the priorities of the European Union, grape growers are encouraged through various EU programmes to invest in innovations that streamline and automate vine cultivation. Today, dozens of companies in Moldova can provide state-of-the-art technologies for agriculture.
In one unique project in Moldova, a winemaker from Taraclia has created a “digital winery.”
Serghei Rizov, 46, is its founder. The Rizov family business began in 2008 when its members purchased several plots of land and started cultivating vines. Today, after more than ten years of hard work, the family produces high-quality wine that meets international standards.
“We have our vineyards, and mostly cultivate (grape) varieties for red wine,” Rizov says. “More than that, we’re currently investing in modern winemaking, and developing our brand – Familna Vinarna RIZOV.”
In order to develop his business, in 2023 the entrepreneur decided to apply to the Digital Impact programme, part of the EU4Moldova: Startup City Cahul project under the EU4Business Initiative – a four-year project aimed at harnessing and strengthening the potential of the digital economy and enhancing the competitiveness of businesses. After completing all the programme application stages, Rizov obtained a grant worth EUR 36,000, which he used to establish a digital winery.
But what exactly is a digital winery?
“The uniqueness of this digital cellar lies in the ability to evaluate and purchase wines using a mobile app and website,” Rizov explains. “The most significant advantage is the ability to store wines in the cellar with continuous monitoring of storage conditions: temperature, humidity, and light,” he adds.
The purpose of creating the digital winery is to expand the business’s customer base, and to develop the culture of wine consumption in Moldova, Rizov says.
According to the entrepreneur, projects like Startup City Cahul have a primary role in the development of the southern region of the country.
Use of technology in the vineyard
Sergiu Tutovan, 59, is the president of Moldova’s Association of Table Grape Producers. To support the association's member companies, he decided to participate in the Digital Impact programme Phase 1 under the EU4Business Initiative, and obtained funding for the DigiVitis project.
“The representatives of Startup City Cahul visited the vine plantations several times and accepted our idea to offer us a grant for the procurement of weather stations and software for them,” says Tutovan.
So, in 2023, the association obtained a grant worth EUR 40,700 under the Digital Impact programme. The investment was used to buy eight weather stations for eight companies from the Association of Table Grape Producers in Moldova’s Cahul, Taraclia, Cantemir and Leova Districts.
“The weather stations are controlled with the help of a mobile phone, through an application, which helps us to obtain a very high precision in data collection, such as: temperature, precipitation, humidity and pests”, Tutovan says.
“As for pests – there are traps with a monitoring system installed, and if their level exceeds certain limits, you get an alarm notification on your phone warning you that it's time to spray the vine.”
Tutovan says that thanks to these stations, farmers are able to save both time and money.
“All the information is delivered to you in a timely manner, and you don't have to go to the vineyards every day or every two or three hours. This way, you can make quick decisions from a distance.”
Tutovan adds that the EU4Moldova: Startup City Cahul project is bringing lots of benefits to entrepreneurs in the south of the country, as without digitization and new technologies it would be practically impossible to keep up with changing market demands – both in terms of quality and quantity.
The Digital Impact Programme for Cahul is being implemented by Startup Moldova from 2022 to 2024, and is part of the EU4Moldova Project: Startup City Cahul, funded by the European Union under its EU4Business initiative, and by Sweden, and implemented by ATIC.
The objectives of the program are to support the development of digital and innovative startups in Moldova’s Cahul District.