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SK Tarpon
SK Tarpon
341 days ago

BIO-INPUTS: THE ANSWER THROUGH NATURE ITSELF

In an increasingly polarized world, perhaps the antagonism in discussions between the environment and agribusiness is the most critical and idealized of all, marked by extreme views. We at 10b believe in the viability of a profitable global food chain and a healthy planet. Our purpose is anchored in business models, technologies and innovative solutions proven to increase productivity and profitability for farmers in a sustainable and regenerative manner, while respecting consumers’ needs. One of the best examples of this type of business is bio-inputs – the main focus of Agrivalle, a company we recently invested in.

Bio-inputs are based on applying natural organisms to increase productivity in crop systems, improve soil fertility and the availability of nutrients for plants and to control pests and diseases in crops. Bio-inputs always use solutions found in nature itself, from microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria and viruses, to insects and mites. While bio-inputs have existed for decades and have been adopted to produce organic crops, their use has grown vigorously in recent years as they are also effective in large crops, creating an opportunity to reduce the use of chemicals that lead to imbalances if not applied properly.

The success of biological solutions stems from collaborations between innovative companies in the private sector – like Agrivalle – and farmers, researchers and government agencies, such as the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA). We recently conducted a study on what motivates farmers to adopt bio-inputs, and the results show, for the most part, that this is due to their greater efficiency and lower production costs. Frequently, the biological solution for certain pests and diseases, such as in the case of nematodes – which cause losses of more than $150 billion a year globally – has had better results than chemicals. Pests develop resistance to chemical molecules over the years, so that more has to be used, potentially damaging not only to the ecosystem but the health of those who apply them and tainting the food we eat. However the dynamics with biological solutions are different. Nature has cycles and we need to respect them. Despite there still being much to learn, decades of scientific research have allowed us to identify natural predators and microorganisms that improve agricultural production.

The impact on the environment is not yet a determining driver in most farmers’ choices. In the abovementioned survey, approximately 1% of respondents said the environment was a factor in their decisions. Through the use of new traceability technologies, the chain can recognize and reward investments by farmers that employ sustainable solutions and new production schemes. These technologies prioritize regenerative practices and allow farmers’ decision-making processes to align with consumer demands for healthy and sustainable food. Yet even before this possibility, it will be the impact on the soil that should make farmers opt for biological solutions. The soil is a farmer’s most important asset. Those who have been adopting biologicals for some time can see the massive difference in the quality of their soil (and many other benefits).

However there is another highly relevant factor: soil has enormous carbon retention potential. Given the regenerative nature of biologicals, their use allows for the rebalancing of microorganisms in soils, increasing their organic content, promoting the capture and fixation of atmospheric carbon and reducing global warming. Biologicals are a real solution as they are viable in the current production model (preparation, planting and management) and offer a proven return across the entire chain. They are probably one of the few avenues available to quickly address this pressing global issue. Given the richness of its ecosystem and the strength of its agribusiness, Brazil can be a leading driver of solutions and answers to what may be the greatest challenge of our generation. It is a privilege to participate in such a process, learning from nature and impacting a vital cause with so much potential to generate value.