Humanity faces a key dilemma: how to produce more and better food for a growing population that demands quality and, the same time, urges us to take care of the environment and the natural resources in a sustainable way.
This tension is conclusively proved by the following figures: by 2050 there will be 2.2 billion new inhabitants who will demand 50% more food. On the other hand, crops will drop by 17% in crops because of the climate change and a 20% decline in arable areas per capita between 2016 and 2050.
Specialists estimate a clear time-limit: there remain only 60 campaigns before we see the strong impact of the effects of global warming.
It is thus vital and urgent to question how we produce and will produce better quality food in large quantities without damaging the biodiversity of ecosystems. The good news is that we are in a position to offer alternatives and map up a transition route towards intelligent, sustainable and life-friendly -but also profitable- production systems.
The way out is to cultivate the land intelligently, understanding how the health of soils works and imitating its mechanisms to enhance life, using science and innovation.
In the company that I co-founded and that I lead today, we have focused on using biotechnology, to, in a certain way, imitate the evolutionary mechanisms of Nature and use the plants defences to produce more and better food.
What are bio-inputs?
Using microorganisms and proteins (phytovaccines), and imitating strategies present in nature, we appeal to the natural mechanisms of crops, activating their immune systems and generating natural responses against pathogens. We also manage to stimulate the growth and productivity of the crops.
Bio-inputs attack only the specific problem, selectively, respecting its natural development, which provides very clear benefits over broad spectrum products.
Working with bio-inputs –which we are already developing thanks to the talent of Argentine scientists- can be a natural solution to face the challenges presented by food production, while contributing to greater food safety, minimizing waste from chemical synthesis which results from the use of agrochemicals and leading to higher quality and healthier diets.
Today, at Protergium, we are already developing and commercializing biotechnological strategies based on the use of intelligent biomolecules, which have the ability to induce the immune response of plants, activating the metabolic pathways to combat fungi and bacteria.
More productive crops
By taking care of the health of crops in a natural fashion, we also contribute to higher productivity and better overall performance. Phytovaccines act as a specific response for both extensive crops (wheat, corn, soybeans) and intensive crops (vine, vegetables, fruit trees, etc). It is a technology that is applied to the seed before sowing or by foliar application.
In Protergium, we are forging alliances with producers and companies of different sizes and product focuses, located in Argentina and over the world, to contribute our technology, research and innovation and to improve productive quality. Either through strategic alliances or through R&D developments tailored to the needs of producers, we want to work collaboratively to boost business.
And there is an interesting opportunity here for Argentina. An opportunity can be anchored not only to its renowned agricultural track-record but also to the advantages provided by our country’s scientific system. It consists in visualizing the business opportunity offered by bio-inputs: it is estimated that the global bio-inputs market generated around US $ 5 billion in 2020, US $ 800 million in Latin America and US $ 2 billion in North America (USA and Canada).
According to an estimate by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa Cerrados) / Dunhan Trimmer, the world market for biological inputs has grown by between 10% and 15% annually depending on the region; meanwhile, the Brazilian market has grown around 15%.
Finally, following this path towards bio-inputs allows us to adapt quickly to the growing requirements of regulations that seek to reduce the use of chemical inputs and foster the use of biological agents, and to bring down production costs and minimize the damage to the environment, in line with the social demands.
There are already examples of programs and initiatives in this regard in Brazil, the United States, Europe and China, each of which, in its own way, stimulates the development of the bioeconomy and the use of biological products.
Argentina has the potential to develop and export its production of bio-inputs to the world and to promote an industry that creates quality employment, generates income in foreign currency and favours sustainable development. An essential path that we can and must travel.
Adrián Rovetto is Founder, Vice President and Director of Production and Quality of TERRAGENE. CEO of PROTERGIUM.