Jul. 3, 2019
By Leonardo Gottems, Reporter for AgroPages
Acquired by Bayer and Monsanto during their merger, Seminis is now part of the HF (Hortifruti) division of the German company. In this exclusive interview with AgroPages, Wilton Tremura, Commercial Head of Seminis, talks about the challenge facing the development of sustainable products and technology.
Brazil faces real challenges related to hortifruti. What demands do producers make in terms of crop protection?
Acquiring agronomic solutions is the biggest challenge for our vegetable producers. Although this is more of an issue in tropical countries such as ours, it also affects all countries. Overall, is it very much about genetics, nutrition and biology. We also have organic products, irrigation and several other factors that, combined, provide solutions for producers.
However, many of these solutions are not used together effectively, which generates waste, uses too much resources and reduces productivity, because no one is creating effective integrated solutions that cover all factors, such as soil, altitude, climate, diseases, pests and other variables.
A movement such as the one stared by Bayer, which focuses integration, unites two very important parts of the chain, genetics and crop protection, and the two businesses are ready for the future and to release a series of integrated products that consider both genetics and protection.
If I see that a cabbage producer has issues with a certain pest, we will work together and use genetic solutions to overcome this, while also using pesticides to a lesser extent. So how can we be more productive, while at the same time more ecological and saving natural resources? This is the future and present challenge.
I am sure that that the future will involve not only genetics and crop protection, but also other key factors in the chain of integration, where there is no lack of irrigation and nutrition. We can also talk about organic products, because we have to use less resources, but how do we use less resources? How can we deliver a complete solution to producers that will save time and increase productivity? Because productivity is the main goal.
Why did such a large company invest in research and development for small farmers?
This is a very interesting question, because with every passing year, the number of small producers is increasing. In some cultures, there are fewer "big" producers. This movement is already occurring, in some cultures more so than others. Today, advanced processes and technologies are important to some crops, such as onions and carrots, which you can produce far away from urban centers, such as Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, Florianopolis and Curitiba. You can also do this in the Cerrado region, where you farm a larger area with less urban development and at lower labor costs.
For both large and small producers, the key goal is to create an integrated solution, which marketing can help achieve. But the main factor is that the solution has to be accessible. Bayer's integration with Monsanto will solve this issue, as well as generate profits, add value and deliver future solutions, because research shows that there is a considerable need for this type of product, especially from small producers. But large producer also have a problem, because there are several companies in the same sector that spread different messages, which is bad for producers, even large ones. So how do we effectively deliver solutions? We have to create them together, through combining genetics and crop protection.
How do small producers access technology? And what are the costs?
Small producers, which are growing in number, have to utilise digital media. How do you create digital solutions that are appropriate to certain products? This is a major challenge for the future. But the main challenge now is creating the solution. All this investment was made to generate value, but without realising that value, we cannot make or offer the solution.
These are cycles, and Bayer has stepped forward. At Seminis, all our businesses are involved in the horticulture sector, which is our great passion. Because the agribusiness market, which is a key market in the country, is involved in exporting corn and soybeans, horticulture has taken a back seat, but we have to understand that the world does not eat animal proteins alone. Producing fresh and healthy food is a challenge for Seminis. Through genetics, we can offer healthier and tastier products. This is our dream and mission.