Maurício Hideki Ouchi Maurício Hideki Ouchi

Maurício is an agronomist from Universidade Estadual Paulista, with 26 years of experience in the Brazilian agricultural market. He has been working with IHARA as a product manager since 2013.
    Over the past three years, awareness of the need to ensure sustainable production, currently one of the most prominent global issues, has grown, reaching even remote parts of Latin America. Seeking to develop products that can work on plantations with a less severe impact on the environment, companies have chosen to invest in the creation of biopesticides. Thus, some regions, such as Latin America, have seen the growth of this segment.
     
    But before we get into that, let me point out that Brazil represents some 70% of the agrochemical market in Latin America, having also grown over the last three years. However, according to a recent survey released by SINDIVEG – the National Union of Products for Plant Protection in Brazil, a drop in sales of traditional pesticides was recorded in 2015. Some countries had embraced the use of biological pesticides in their pre-harvest spray. In Brazil, in particular, bio-nematicides saw significant growth. These specific niches point to good prospects for the industry.
     
    In projections released at the end of last year, the Brazilian Association of Biological Control Companies forecast biopesticides would see a 15%–20% increase in sales in Brazil in the coming years. According to the association, some 51 companies have recorded sales of bio products in the country, offering approximately 118 solutions. The acceleration of studies and approvals in this area may be confirmed by the high number of records created in 2015. At a total of 20 records, the figure is 135% higher than the average in the last six years.
     
    This market is seeing strong growth because the process to register this kind of technology tends to be faster than that of other, more traditional, technologies. The authorities have established dedicated teams to evaluate biopesticides, using requirements that differ from traditional analyses.
     
    IHARA began operating in this segment some time ago and has witnessed all its transformations. Despite being a traditional manufacturer of agrochemicals, the company has created an exclusive space for bio products since 2014. It has invested in several related projects and has presented a few technologies for registration. One of these, Eco-Shot (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, D747 strain), is expected to be introduced to the market at the end of 2016, once it is approved for use on fruit and vegetable crops.
     
    Currently, bio product sales make a respectable contribution to IHARA’s revenues, motivating us to get more deeply involved in this sector, as we look to partner with companies and national and foreign universities to develop new studies and products. For this important step, we have the support of our shareholders, who also invest in research in this area, as well as the support of other large companies in the sector. The partnership with these great companies enables us to provide a complete portfolio of solutions for our customers and for farmers.
     
    But why are biopesticides essential? What makes them so different from what we already have on the market? Certain aspects of the current agrochemical situation make them a popular choice. For instance, biopesticides have a greater focus on sustainable agriculture, while pests are becoming increasingly resistant to some chemical pesticides. There is also a limited supply of new molecules, and biopesticides have made significant technological advances, the effects of which have been verified, allowing the development of more efficient and more stable formulations.
     
    The segment has also benefited from the recent phytosanitary problems that afflicted some parts of Brazil. Helicoverpa armigera, for example, caused significant damage to crops in 2014, creating huge losses for farmers. Control of this pest, using economically viable means, was only achieved with the introduction of microbiological insecticides and parasitoid insects as part of a pest management plan. IHARA was involved in this process, using GEMSTAR, a biopesticide considered to be one of the most effective in the fight against Helicoverpa.
     
    Whether the market will continue to see growth in this segment, we cannot say. However, surveys show that Brazil and Latin America still have a long way to go and have great potential to create a space that supports the use of biopesticides, making these solutions an extremely lucrative market niche and a viable option for the continued growth of the Brazilian agriculture industry as well as offering consumers an even healthier product.