BASF reinforces commitment to Brazilian Agriculture
BASF reinforces commitment to Brazilian Agriculture.
“BASF is committed to Brazilian agriculture,” said Michael Heinz, President of BASF’s Agricultural Products division, opening up the company’s media briefing in São Paulo on May 9.“ Over the past three years, growers in Brazil and particularly in soybeans have been hit hard by a combination of low commodity prices, inauspicious weather conditions and the appreciation of the Real. We have seen first signs of recovery this season, and the mid-term outlook for Brazilian agriculture is strong,” he added, pointing to the country’s No. 1 position in key crops and its role in the fast-growing industry for crop-based fuels.
“We want our customers to be successful in the challenging agribusiness,” said Heinz. “That’s why we are working hard to develop innovative products and services.” BASF invests 26 % of its overall R&D budget in crop protection. The results speak for themselves: The company has one of the strongest early-stage development pipelines in the industry, with a new fungicide and insecticide moving rapidly toward market introduction.
Brazilian growers are already benefiting from BASF’s powerful in-launch pipeline. “Growers have made several of our products No. 1 in key crops,” said Walter Dissinger, head of BASF Agricultural Products in Latin America. For example, Regent® and Standak® are the No.1 insecticides in sugarcane and soybeans. “We’re really excited about the high acceptance of our products for these two crops, both of which are gaining in importance together with the biofuel boom,” said Dissinger.
At the same time, BASF has launched a series of new products that are gaining popularity in the fruit and vegetable and cotton segments. Cabrio Top®, which contains our new blockbuster fungicide boscalid, is a good example.
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Yield and quality
BASF is taking chemical crop protection to the next level with its family of products with plant health effects. These products bring higher yields and improved quality on top of traditional crop protection. Two years ago, BASF made a substantial increase in its global plant health research and development outlays. “We’re looking to identify other active ingredients with positive physiological effects, to expand our plant health portfolio to new crops and to translate our field and lab trials into hands-on advice for growers,” said Heinz.
In Brazil growers rely on the yield benefits of Opera® (F 500®) in soybeans. “Opera has brought a step-change technology to Brazilian soy growers, who are seeing their yields per hectare increase dramatically,” said Dissinger. Citing the results of 2006 field trials, Dissinger pointed to average yield increases of 2 to 3 bushels per hectare in soy. There is also enormous potential in corn. In the United States, field trials showed and average increase of 5-6 bushels per hectare in corn treated with F 500. “These yield benefits give growers a clear return on their investment,” said Heinz.
Higher-yielding crops are also a major focus of a new research and commercialization venture between BASF and Monsanto. The two companies in March 2007 announced a long-term, $1.5 billion joint collaboration in plant biotechnology that will focus on the research, development and commercialization of high-yielding crops and crops that are more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions such as drought for corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. The first product developed as part of this collaboration is slated for commercialization in the first half of the next decade.
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Growing with our customers
“The past three years have also had an impact on dealers, our direct customers,” said Dissinger. This is bad for the entire agricultural value chain, right down to growers who need long-term partnerships with their distributors. Under the motto “Growing with our Customers,” BASF has set up a program to help dealers put their businesses on a firmer footing. “We are working with universities and consultants here in Brazil to help our customers fine-tune their strategies and implement tight management systems, said Dissinger. This program gives dealers access to technology and business administration techniques. In addition, its helps them hone their advisory skills, so that they can provided additional value to the grower.”
The Minilab, developed by BASF, is a good example. This free monitoring tool allows soybean farmers to test for important leaf diseases, including soybean rust. More than 450 Minilabs have been installed in 14 Brazilian states, covering all the important soybean regions. Each Minilab unit can evaluate the samples of 60 growers. BASF also provides a full training program for distributors and sales people. To date, Minilab has detected more than 2,000 cases of soybean rust in Brazil’s main production states.
“Working with our customers is good for BASF too. That’s how we learn what’s important to dealers and growers. This knowledge flows into our product development efforts from the discovery and development of new active ingredients over their formulation into effective, safe and easy-to-use products to the advisory and stewardship activities,” Heinz said. “We believe that innovation in our industry is critical for our success and that of our customers. But innovation in agrochemicals is requires a substantial investment in research and development, so getting it right early on is extremely important,” he added.
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