Three Trends in LATAM AgTech: Funding, Biologicals and Efficacy

Last month, Jerry Duff and Horacio Buscaglia joined more than 300 fellow researchers, entrepreneurs and investors at the annual Biocontrol LATAM Conference in Colombia to explore AgTech opportunities in Latin America. The conference shed light on a range of topics fueling the adoption of biological products in the region. Three trends in LATAM AgTech emerged.

Venture Funding is Tightening Up in all Sectors, Including AgTech

Venture capital funds have been cautious since the closing of Silicon Valley Bank, which is impacting funding for AgTech innovations. Still, innovators in the AgTech sector are enthusiastic. Throughout the conference, many presenters and experts stressed the need to align investor interests with the sustainable and impactful benefits of their technologies. Collaboration among investors, startups and CROs is essential to fuel investment in AgTech.

Biological Sales in LATAM are Down in 2023

New biologic sales in LATAM are down in 2023 due to excess inventory carried over from 2022. Despite the dip in sales, the overall trend for biological products in LATAM is up. For example, the Brazilian market is surpassing US$500 million, and the trend is up, indicating a 10% share of total crop protection and fertilizer market within the next 5 years. Many discussions at the conference revolved around promoting awareness among farmers about the benefits of biologicals, as well as addressing regulatory challenges to ensure their effective adoption. There is particularly high interest from global, Europe- and U.S.- based companies to continue developing LATAM business, specifically in Brazilian markets, to enhance productivity, streamline supply chains and promote sustainable practices.

Efficacy Concerns Driving Need for Greater Scientific Rigor

Concern continues to grow with Central American growers around the efficacy of biocontrols. Growers are looking for full replacement of synthetic chemistry instead of programs to manage resistance and decrease residues at harvest, which has slowed the adoption rates compared to other markets. Many conversations at the conference focused on the importance of robust research, field trials, and data-driven approaches to validate the efficacy of biological innovations to optimize their performance.

Overall, attendees at the conference agreed that increased investment in on-farm technology and the adoption of biocontrols across LATAM by growers will make strides in the growth of agricultural production as the region seeks to ensure food security, increase agricultural sustainability, and promote innovation.

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