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Jul. 12, 2019
Q1. What novel formulation and application technologies are needed to meet the needs for growers over the next 5 -10 years in different global regions?
Growers today are facing multiple challenges that are driving two primary industry needs. The first challenge is presented by the growing resistance to the different crop protection products that are being applied around the world. This phenomenon is quite similar to what we’ve seen in the pharma industry – where different bacteria are becoming immune to the antibiotics that have protected the world’s population against illness for decades - although possibly escalating at an even faster rate.
In the AgChem industry, such resistance is posing great challenges to growers. Namely, as pests become more resistant, more products need to be applied at a higher frequency. Clearly, this bears great financial and ecological consequences.
In some cases even increasing application rates and frequency does not effectively control the disease. As a result, output decreases, crops are lost, and prices increase. In fact, there is no part of the supply and value chain that is not impacted.
One example of resistance comes from black grass, a weed that is particularly prevalent in Europe, but also beyond. Black grass grows next to cereal crops, such as wheat and barley, adversely impacting yields. Despite the variety of herbicides applied to combat it, black grass has developed resistance to most products and requires increased application rates of others.
Another example comes from a fungal infection called Asian Soybean Rust, common in Brazil and surrounding countries, including Bolivia and Paraguay. Over the last number of years, this fungal disease has developed significant resistance to existing fungicides and has caused profound economic losses to both farmers and the food chain.
For effective resistance management, plant protection products based on several chemical classes and different modes of action need to be available to farmers. The development of new formulation and application technologies needs to evolve accordingly. We need to be innovative and user-focused in our approach, while balancing the various and competing factors we need to take into consideration, including environmental, regulatory and financial aspects.
While players in the industry are working hard to bring new innovative active ingredients (AIs) to market, the rate of innovation appears to be slower than the rate of the evolution of resistances. As soon as a new product is launched, work on the next one needs to start, if not before.
The second challenge that farmers face is the often adverse public perception of the environmental and health impact of plant protection. As ADAMA we understand that societal concerns need to be addressed and we also need to be clear that all our products have undergone a rigorous and robust regulatory assessment before being allowed on the market. If applied correctly, plant protection products are an important and safe tool for farmers to help safeguard yields and increase the quality of their produce.
I believe that there has to be a wider discussion on the issues of food and feed production, which should include farmers, scientists, manufacturers, regulators and NGOs. There should be an informed and fact based debate on how to sustainably secure food supply and food safety for a growing population.
So yes, our formulation research and development should address a complex environment, balancing technological, biological and regulatory challenges. This is what makes our job so interesting and rewarding.
Q2. What are the challenges in R&D for new formulations and possible solutions?
As pest resistance increases quickly, one of the challenges to R&D is undoubtedly shortening the development process for new formulations.
Every market player wants to be the first to market. But with resistance playing a major role in our industry, there is a greater sense of urgency than ever to accelerate the process of getting a product from the research stage to the end user. Resistance cycles are getting shorter and shorter, and we simply can’t afford not to keep up.
Moreover, with the increasing demands of our regulatory environment, accelerating development cycles has become an even more complicated endeavor. There is a lot of uncertainty, where you can be working on a product for perhaps three years. On starting the registration process, you might discover that regulation has been passed during the development period. At that point, the formulation and application rates of the product might have to change, and you find yourself back to square one.
Q3. Could you introduce how ADAMA develops agrochemical formulations suited to different global regions and speeds up the formulation technology innovation?
Our product development process starts with ideation. That is, first we investigate and identify the needs of growers in different regions of the world. We translate these needs into product concepts, and then make decisions about which products we want to develop and prioritize.
A variety of functions are involved in this decision-making process, including local as well as global assets. This ensures that we stay close to the local needs, even as we build on our wider global resources.
Indeed, our product concepts come from the field – literally. It’s not just about headquarters bringing in the ideas and making decisions. The countries themselves are deeply involved.
As a company, we are locally driven and globally backed. We have a presence in 50 countries, endowing us with great access to nurturing mutually-beneficial relationships with farmers. And the result is a product development process that is tailored to meet the specific needs of farmers in every region and key market.
At ADAMA, we invest in both internal and external capabilities. We are expanding our internal resources, and recently opened two new state-of-the-art R&D centers, in Nanjing, China, Hyderabad, India and the recently launched R&D center in Beer-Sheva, Israel.
In addition, we’ve also established more third-party partnerships, in order to accelerate our access to innovative technologies and methodologies.
I would highlight our network of agronomists located in dozens of countries, a number of local formulation labs, including in Israel, India, Brazil, China, and the US.
Beyond resources, I believe that our culture and mindset enables us to react rapidly to change, to be agile, and to innovate in the way we connect the needs of the market to our expertise and ability to deliver on them.
I am proud of how we mold local with global, and apply agility and an innovative spirit to many things we do daily at ADAMA.
Q4. What’s the core competence to drive formulation technology innovation in your company? What innovation formulation technologies have been launched by your company? What are the agriculture concerns solved by them?
ADAMA strives to create simplicity in agriculture- with one of the most comprehensive and diversified portfolios of differentiated, high-quality products, we provide farmers around the world with crop protection solutions that help to produce safe and nutritious food for a rapidly growing population.
- Soybean rust is a highly impactful disease which causes significant damage. It is particularly destructive since it can develop very quickly, be carried by wind over large distances, and cause rapid, irreparable loss of leaves, with the possibility of causing crop losses of up to 80%. In 2018, ADAMA launched a unique three-way mixture fungicide to combat soybean rust, CRONNOS® (picoxystrobin + Tebuconazole + mancozeb). Its liquid formulation, CRONNOS TOV® provides effective protection for soybean diseases, saves time for growers by strongly adhering to the plants’ leaves and preventing spray nozzles from clogging. Its flexibility provides farmers with further benefit by being able to apply the fungicide at any time during the plant’s development.
- BREVIS® (metamitron) was developed with the aim to replicate the known effects of shade thinning on apple and pear trees and is the most effective Carbaryl substitute among all other thinning candidates. It combines a photosynthesis inhibitor and a commonly used fertilizer (Calcium formate). For the last 6 years ADAMA has been testing and improving the formulation of BREVIS® in a wide range of varieties, growing conditions and geographical zones (Europe, Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australasia). BREVIS® is now registered in 23 countries worldwide, with other key apple and pear markets to follow in the coming years. BREVIS® is an innovative product now patented in Europe and other countries globally.
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