Sep. 5, 2019
As part of its strategy to encourage Brazilian farmers to use baculoviruses and biological pesticides to control caterpillars, Australian-based AgBiTech signed a business partnership agreement with distributor Via Fértil.
Based in the city of Tangará da Serra and with five other offices in the state of Mato Grosso in Brasnorte, Campos de Julio, Campo Novo do Parecis, Diamantino and Sapezal, Via Fértil has worked in the agribusiness for 15 years, beginning with biological products.
After two years in the Brazilian market, following a period researching the performance of baculovirus in controlling soybean and cotton caterpillars, AgBiTech stressed that it aims to treat a total area of 2 million hectares with its products during the 2019-20 season.
According to AgBiTech, during the 2018-19 season when its commercial operations began in Brazil with the launch of branded baculoviruses, such as Cartugen and Chrysogen, it treated an area equivalent to 500,000 hectares.
Founded by businessmen Luiz Rogério Botaro and Paulo Cesar Favaro Mota, Via Fértil defines itself as a company that focuses on innovation and expansion. Botaro stated that farmers are increasing their use of baculoviruses, as caterpillar attacks are increasing every year, especially by the species, Spodoptera frugiperda, which is considered by experts as difficult to control.
A recent BIP (Business Intelligence Panel) survey published by consultancy Spark Strategic Intelligence, confirms Botaro’s predictions. The study pointed out that soybean biological products worth US$100 million were sold in the 2018-19 crop season, up 45%. The total area treated with soybean inputs increased to 7.8 million hectares, up 152% over the previous season, added the survey.
“We consider baculoviruses as excellent tools for increasing the longevity of chemical molecules and the durability of key technologies. Biologics are better at countering caterpillar resistance compared to traditional insecticides. Baculoviruses are also innovative solutions for protecting crops because they reduce the need to use chemicals and make agriculture more sustainable,” Botaro said.
AgBiTech Brasil commercial director, agronomist Marcelo Giuliano, points out that the commercial agreement with Via Fértil will allow the two companies to expand their adhesion to biological products from producers in strategic regions of Mato Grosso. “In the region covered by Via Fértil, there is a high incidence of caterpillars, especially Spodoptera frugiperda, and in recent harvests the producer has found it difficult to control these pests effectively,” says Giuliano.
Giuliano also stated that AgBiTech is continually investing in increasing the number of its technical field staff, as it recently did in regions covered by the six Via Fértil units. “Our proposal is to sign an agreement with a partner distributor that can monitor AgBiTech's baculovirus-treated crops. Via Fértil's commercial and business expertise will complement these efforts,” he added.
AgBiTech began in Australia in 2000, where it operated exclusively until it attracted investments from the American private equity fund, Paine Schwartz Partners (PAS), in 2015, when it moved its headquarters to the United States and built its baculovirus production unit there. PAS currently has around $2 billion invested in 42 projects, with most being linked to global agribusiness.