Our partners Eatable Adventures are proud to be World Agri-Tech South America partners and had the pleasure of interviewing innovation representatives from Raízen and Adama, two companies that are currently disrupting the agri-food system and developing solutions by partnering with startups across the Agritech space.
Raízen is an energy company that operates in all stages of the process, from the cultivation of cane, production of sugar, ethanol and bioenergy, to the commercialization, logistics and distribution of goods. They invest in solutions based on only the best innovation and sustainability practices, acting as a reference in the production of renewable energy.
Adama is a company dedicated to the production of agrochemicals, but they also offer AgTech and crop protection solutions in their services portfolio. They work with a purpose: to listen, learn and deliver integrated solutions for farmers to increase their productivity with sustainability.
We had the opportunity to talk to Jose Eduardo Massad, Director of Information Technology at Raízen, and Roberson Marczak, Innovation Manager at ADAMA Latam.
Covid-19 induced challenges
Jose Eduardo explained that the main challenge that people have felt during this time has been the unexpected changes thrown at them by the crisis. There was no time to prepare for the challenges ahead and Raizen, for example, quickly established actions to directly combat covid induced impacts, through partners and full team collaboration. From a technology perspective, it was a major challenge when the whole team had to self-isolate and work from home.
In fact, ADAMAS digital services have proved to be very resourceful tools for farmers during this time, in order to maintain communication with their technical consultants and sales reps, despite contact and visit restrictions within farms. For Roberson, digitalization of this kind is here to stay, as farmers adapt increasingly more with ease to these technologies.
Roberson told us that him and his team also had to adapt to the new reality of teleworking and social distancing. He also raised an interesting question: How can we keep in touch with our customers, when we are faced with social restrictions?
Transforming the agrifood market with technology
Jose Eduardo said that in Raizen, they currently have an ongoing digital agriculture transformation that includes the use of disruptive technology such as on-board computers, precision agriculture, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), drones for application of inputs, artificial intelligence for prediction and optimization of production, among others.
In ADAMA? Roberson explained that AgTech services are part of ADAMA´s core business and portfolio strategy. For him; “The integration between farming and digital technologies is the key to taking agriculture to a new level of productivity”.
The adoption of AgTech tools will have a similar effect on traditional farms, like the effect of digital technologies on entertainment, banking and travel, for example. It offers many benefits, including:
- Supporting agronomic decisions with quantifiable data.
- Reduction of operating costs and uncertainty while offering peace of mind for farmers.
- Minimizing potential negative environmental impact and agronomic risks.
- Increase efficiency of products, by applying it the right spraying.
Working with startups to accelerate the agriculture industry
Jose Eduardo asserted that innovation is one of Raizens main foundations and in 2017 they launched Pulse, one of the biggest hubs in Brazil that promotes open innovation, and which has helped to generate a strong agribusiness ecosystem across the country.
“Initiatives like Pulse will be increasingly used as key partners in solutions for the agricultural sector.”
The hub currently collaborates with more than 28 startups, and over 50 projects have already been tried and tested, 6 of which have signed a contract to be incorporated in Raizens technological environment and to start working as solution providers.
For Roberson, “startups are a powerful way to speed things up for AgTech”. The key is to select startups that are working on farmers pain points and that always put them first through their technologies. To work with startups is to inject agility into your company, but beware, a lot of the time they also require extra direction in terms of solutions development. Such a large company like ADAMA can act as this guide during the development process to increase their chances of success.
ADAMA boasts several partnerships with startups in Brazil, but mainly in Israel; their country of origin. After working with various startups, they have learnt that the most important factor is trying not to change the way a startup works. “We let the startups come up with the idea and we refine together the agronomic and financial aspects.”
Changes in the agriculture sector
For Jose Eduardo, the increased use of technologies is generating major changes in the sector, with an impact on the entire production process. It’s these kinds of synergies that allow a once traditional sector to optimize processes and contribute directly to the discovery of new solutions.
For Roberson, there is something missing in the agriculture space, and that’s the ability to move to the next technological level and experience a new revolution; data integration. “The challenge is how to bring data from rural areas to communication networks, to be processed and transformed into useful information”, allowing farmers to make future decisions and not only passively contemplate what has already happened in their farms that can no longer be modified.
We are very proud to be partners at the online World Agritech South America Summit, join us on July 29-30 as we delve into important conversations and networking regarding the role of technology in achieving a more sustainable, efficient and healthy agri-food supply chain. Get your tickets here!