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Interview with Wilson Ong, Terra Drone Agri Country Manager, on Terra Drone Group’s Efforts for Sustainable Agriculture

Interview with Wilson Ong, Terra Drone Agri Country Manager, on Terra Drone Group’s Efforts for Sustainable Agriculture

Terra Drone Corporation entered the dynamic world of technology-driven precision agriculture with the strategic  business acquisition of Avirtech, a leading Southeast Asian startup providing agricultural drone spraying and mapping services, in September 2023. The integration of Terra Drone’s global Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology leadership with Avirtech’s precision farming prowess has created unprecedented opportunities for enhancing productivity, resolving labor and resource issues, and contributing to sustainable agriculture. The business transfer led to the establishment of the new company Terra Drone Agri in Malaysia and the new business brand “Terra Agri” in Malaysia and Indonesia.

For this interview, we sat down with Wilson Ong, Terra Drone Agri Country Manager and a driving force behind Avirtech’s success and business transfer to Terra Drone. He shared his insights on entrepreneurship, exciting advances in agricultural technology, and Terra Agri’s immense potential under the Terra Drone Group.

Wilson graduated from Singapore Management University with Bachelor of Accounting and Law. He started his journey in entrepreneurship since 2012 and built multiple companies since then.Spending the past 5 years in Avirtech, the company has grown to be the market leader in Agriculture in Indonesia for drone solutions. 


A. I am currently the Country Manager for Terra Drone Agri, primarily focusing on Indonesia and Malaysia, the main targets of Terra Drone’s agriculture business. Terra Agri is the agriculture service of the Terra Drone Group, which offers multiple drone solutions and is driving the development of the drone industry around the world.

I actually started out training and working as an accountant in my native Singapore. But let’s just say that accounting was never really my calling. I subsequently moved into startups, going from equities analysis tools to software development for corporate clients and then software applications for drones.

When we launched the startup Avirtech in Singapore, our focus wasn’t initially on drones for agriculture. But once we began working on drone applications, we realized that agriculture is in desperate need of innovation and an industry where we could make a big impact, so we jumped at the opportunity. Our motivation was like that of many others in the younger generation. We didn’t want to be confined in a corporate environment as just another cog in the system. We wanted to do something new and meaningful, and we just kind of figured everything out as we went along. And of course, Singapore is a small country, so we eventually expanded into Indonesia and Malaysia as well.

Terra Agri team in Malaysian, doing spraying project.

A. I think drones have massive potential for the agriculture industry. Agriculture is one of the oldest industries in the world, but its biggest evolutions – irrigation and industrialization – occurred quite a long time ago. I think that drones, together with AI down the road, will be the next big jump in terms of what agriculture can produce. These technologies will address numerous challenges currently facing the agriculture industry, including lack of labor shortages due to decreasing populations and urgent need to mitigates climate change. Companies are recognizing that it is unsustainable to continue the practices they have been using for the past decades and even centuries. They know they need to change. So that has really propelled the use of technology, especially drones in the past few years.

For example, one of the most common criticisms that affects our customers, such as palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, is that their practices are unsustainable and harmful to the environment. That was true decades ago. Palm oil plantations are massive, so it was impossible for management to have strong control back then. This led to overuse of pesticides and fertilizer, which then went on to affect ecosystems. But big changes are happening with the use of drones and robotics, and when we can add in AI to the drones and robotics effectively, that would be a revolutionary leap in productivity.

A. Well first of all, we stand out for thriving when so many other drone companies failed. There are fewer drone companies now than just three years ago, when drones were the new ‘hot’ technology that attracted so much attention and investment. A big factor in our success was and continues to be engineering. The drone industry presents unique challenges because it requires an extremely sophisticated combination of software, hardware, and manufacturing expertise. Many companies that failed came into the industry without fully understanding the complexity of the entire supply chain ecosystem. In contract, we have built a strong team that now numbers 400 people, including an excellent engineering group of 50 to 60 people in Indonesia alone.

Terra Agri team doing fertilizer spraying project

Another one of our strengths has been our continuous innovation. When Avirtech started, we were one of the first companies that brought spraying into Indonesia on a large scale. Then we became one of the first companies to deploy spot spraying and precision spraying.

Now this year, we became one of the first companies to start using drones for fertilizer. That was impossible just two years ago. Such continuous innovation is essential because what we see now as cutting-edge will be obsolete in just a few years. That kind of innovation requires continuous investment, which is why the drone industry is so capital-intensive. That is one of the reasons that led us to the acquisition by the Terra Drone Group.

A. We began talks with Terra Drone about two years ago, when the company was beginning to consider entering the agriculture industry. We were first struck by our similarities in terms of values and thinking. Let’s just say that Terra Drone is much more than your typical Japanese company. It actively takes on challenges and is willing to break out of what is considered the norm.

Ultimately, we realized that our companies could do more together. Avirtech had the local knowledge, technology, drone deployment, and skills, while Terra Drone clearly had an extremely bright future in terms of UTM, the direction of regulations, management, and structure needed to scale the business. Working together meant we could combine our strengths to achieve more at a higher speed.

A.  The Terra Way is the fundamental reason why we wanted to work with Terra Drone. One of its core tenets is “Challenge as Global No. 1.” We were already No.1 for market share in Indonesia and Malaysia, and we were ready to take on the challenge of the rest of the world. There are many countries around the globe that desperately need a revolution in agricultural drone technology. We knew that, together with Terra Drone, we could deliver such a revolution. We also admired the Terra Way’s values for human resources, encouraging taking ownership and showing grit, as well as inspiring and being inspired.

Having the common goal of the Terra Way binds people together. That is especially crucial for Terra Drone as it expands rapidly around the world, including not just Terra Drone Indonesia and Terra Drone Agri in Southeast Asia, but also Unifly in Europe and Aloft Technologies in the U.S. Although our global human resources have different cultures, languages, and beliefs, we unite with a collaborative spirit, driven by our common purpose.

A.  We are actively seeking talent who can identify customer problems, take responsibility, and go above and beyond to find solutions. You need to have a mentality where you relish challenges. For our managers especially, we value people who can go beyond just doing what they are told. Many of our current management team at Terra Agri business units in Indonesia and Malaysia joined us just four years ago, starting from lower positions such as administrative staff and drone pilots and working their way up. We’ve all made mistakes along the way, even myself. But it’s our willingness to learn and grow that propels us forward. Together, we can achieve great things.

A.We offer an amazing opportunity for anyone who wants to help the company grow while simultaneously achieving personal and professional growth. We’re probably at just 5% in terms of our potential in the market, and we’re seeking talent who can take us to 100%. This might not be the right fit if you prefer to simply complete your tasks without seeking additional challenges. But if you’re driven to make a difference, tackle challenges, and be a pioneer, we’d love to hear from you. We hope you’ll join us on our journey to revolutionize the agriculture industry.

Terra Drone held a management training