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CROs: Offer services, but more than services – Exclusive interview with Manexaqrcode

Aug. 17, 2020

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Aug. 17, 2020

Latin America is the most attractive market for both crop protection companies and CRO companies that provide development & regulatory services to crop protection companies. Crop protection sales in Latin America rose significantly for a second year in 2019, rising more than 10% in 2018 and over 7% in 2019. Globally, Latin America was the second largest agrochemical market by region, with Brazil remaining the leading market, ahead of the US and China. 


The strong situation of the crop protection market has further stimulated CRO companies to increase their investments in Latin America in the past years. AgroPages invited five leading CRO companies: Eurofins Agroscience Services, SynTech, Vigna Brasil, NSF and Manexa, to discuss how they support the increasing crop protection market in their own ways and what they are thinking of diversifying their services in this growing region.


Here below is the interview with Nicolas Gear, Project Manager of Manexa. Click the links on the right side to read other interviews.


Please brief us on your company’s business in Latin America. What services does the company mainly provide to customers?


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Nicolas Gear

Project Manager of Manexa


Data and sample generations are Manexa’s most demanded services, whether carried out through GLP accreditations or supported on certified SOP. Breeding and related seed services have been within our scope of operations for more than three decades. The advantage of gathering many agroecological environments led us to a chance of a wide crop service platform and, in some circumstances, a very strong correlation, not only in efficacy trials within the Northern Hemisphere, but also in screening and selection when talking about seeds. 


We run operations in Argentina and in Uruguay with Raktal s.a. Manexa is now the leading brand and we are based in a very productive area of Argentina growing extensive crops. In recent years, we have incorporated digital farming development and calibration of different tools for our clients.


Our operation, as a whole, helps to reduce the time needed during the development processes from proof of concept to the pipeline, enhancing data generation and genetic gain in seeds. 


What are the advantages driving your company's Latin American business? 


Being permanently trained in the culture of Quality as a strategic value has been a landmark of our company, the completion of the protocols is professionally fulfilled and the addition of technology which, in certain cases partnered, include prestigious high tech analytics and project directors.


 The thorough planning of each capability offered in an unstable scenario such as Latin America led us to the continuity of our operations. It is our vision to include specific strategic partners, which led to a successful research platform for our clients, thus broadening the available knowledge.


When related to seed, the concept of a supply chain overflows all technical criteria and data generation. We run crossings, progeny rows, parent seed increases and yield testing networks. Knowing the overall business of crop protection and seeds is an asset, as technologies became extremely cross-linked in their development.


As we identified, in some cases a gap between technological implementation and the final product development existed, and we included technology to emulate those scenarios and even detected areas of improvement to be suggested. That’s when we add value, besides an accurate service provision.


What are the characteristics of the Latin American market that attract investment from CRO companies?


The agricultural expansion in Latin America has been steady and more than significant. We have seen a great evolution of the crop protection and seed organizations’ strategies in the past 20 years in the region. Taking advantage of the vast land extension and its optimal weather conditions, the region has stood out among the world’s productive areas. 


In relation to the actors, this increased activity evolved from an exclusive in-house operation and information generation, to meet the massive needs of certified agroecological evaluations. Even, what is more challenging, is that this demand driven growth of evaluations, testing and product development is still on its way with biologicals and new breeding techniques.


The incorporation of worldwide valid accreditations, QA systems, and standardization was the requirement for expanding research capacity by outsourcing an increasing participation of the CROs.


Adopting technology in farming production in Latin America is fast, nevertheless the environmental impact requires an increasing emphasis on the resources allocated to evaluate these in the region. 


The actual trend is not only to bring a sustainable product to market, but also the technology used in the crop protection, the seed and finally the whole development operation, where CROs take place is sustainable, too.


What are the significant changes in agricultural or crop protection policies and regulations related to your business in major regions of Latin America in recent years?


Economic regulations in Argentina always are more focused in adjustments to its export tax regime. Key modifications to existing rates in 2020 included an increase from 30 percent to 33 percent for soybeans and soybean products, while wheat, corn, and sorghum export taxes remained at 12 percent. This has an impact on the adoption of technology and inputs by farmers. 


Last year, the ban on butyric esters of 2,4-D herbicide was formalized in Argentina by SENASA Argentina. Regarding registration, in our country the transference of registrant for a single product was limited to a one modification per year.


In the past years, we account for an increased accreditation by entities like the OAA (Argentinean Organism of Accreditations) for GLP certified operations for efficacy trials and residue studies (field and analytical), following OECD guidelines.

 

The implementation of Bee Studies to meet Brazilian IBAMA’s instruction is taking place and, in a separate chapter, the advent of biological products demanded an adaptation of the current protocols, in which each of the agencies reacted in different manners.


In relation to the seed technology, the adoption of genome edited materials and new breeding techniques, as not regulated organisms, resulted in the rapid testing of the some of the new developments.


The Latin American market, especially Brazil and Argentina, has witnessed the rapid development of biological solutions and digital agriculture in recent years. What impact will these have on your company's development strategy?


Biological technologies will steadily grow and be adopted in the coming years in our region. We have been providing evaluation services for these type of products, both in Argentina and Uruguay. The involvement in the specifics included microbiologist in our team of professionals. At the same time, when related to field assessments, we invested in professional seed treatment machinery for an accurate preparation of samples.


In reference to digital farming, we have worked side by side with companies from the design of protocols to the environment selection, in order to provide raw data for the development of satellite and digital images. It’s been some time since we have developed the scouting network platform and brought knowledge to the fine tuning that this technology requires.


What is your company's development plan in Latin America or key countries in the next few years? Do you have any suggestions for your potential partners who would like to invest more in Latin countries? 


We tend to say that our mind is set in the world demand and our feet in Latin America. Taking advantage of an on-site 400 hectares location provided a basis for, and expanding counter season operations, while building additional services through networking. We continue keeping a professional logistics operation assisting the service, and this has been a strategic challenge. Most of us, owners and employees, had professional experience in large multinational R&D companies, and we built a trust within our organization by being respectful of procedures and protocols.


There’s a joint collaborative synergy between high tech R&D and a region with permanent expansion and skilled scientists. CROs know better about their position and can easily adapt to structures.



This article was initially published in AgroPages '2020 Latin America Focus' magazine. Download it to read more articles.

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