The exciting opportunities for trade with Latin American markets were the focus of a recent successful trade mission to Paraguay involving several UK agri-tech companies.
The mission was led by Agri-EPI Centre, working in close partnership with the Department for International Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It featured the Ministerial launch of the Agri-EPI-led Paraguay Satellite Demonstration Farm at the Paraguay Expo 2019, a major event showcasing the country’s farming, industrial and services sectors.
Partners Paraguay Agri-Tech Mission
Agri-EPI Centre has been leading the Innovate UK- supported Satellite Demonstration Farm project in Paraguay since January 2018. It has involved partnering with a farming business to demonstrate UK agri-tech in the agricultural economy of Paraguay.
The farming business, GVasa in San Pedro, spans 85,000 hectares and incorporates cattle, maize, soybean and rice production enterprises. The initial focus of the Smart Farm project has been on improving finishing cattle efficiency through remote live weight monitoring and improved nutrition. The ability to capture real time live weight data empowers dynamic decision making combined with improved nutrition, leading to better feed conversion efficiency.
The economic outcome of introducing UK technology means more profitable farming systems, reduced environmental footprint and improved economic sustainability.
There have so far been two UK commercial partners involved in trials on the farm. Ritchie Agricultural has provided in field weigh crates for cattle, while Harbro has been trialling its Maxammon feed supplement.
Next steps for the Smart Farm project are to continue with the current trials and to assess the priorities for additional activities. Two areas currently being considered are technology for tracking cattle across the huge swathes of land on typical Paraguay cattle ranches, and gathering harvest data.
Joining the trade mission were Hummingbird Technologies, Brinicombe Agri and AGCOM. With Agri-EPI and DIT representatives, the delegates visited the Smart Farm in San Pedro, attended a reception hosted by the UK Ambassador to Paraguay Matthew Hedges; took part in the Smart Farm launch with the participation of Paraguay Agriculture Minister Juan Carlos Denis Lichi, Vice Minister of Agriculture Nicasio Romero and Vice Minister of Livestock Marcelo Gonzáles.
The delegation also had an opportunity for B2B networking with some of the many Latin American businesses attending the Expo, and gave positive feedback about the potential opportunities arising from the trip.
Dr Elizabeth Warham, DIT’s Agri-Tech Lead said:
There is often a reluctance from the end-user – farmer or agri-business distributor – to purchase technology that has not been validated and tested by farmers in the target market, making it difficult for companies to sell technology at a trade event to enter a new export market. A showcase demo smart farm provides a platform for companies to collect data, support claims and illustrate product effectiveness in-country. Where these smart farms are connected to the UK Agri-Tech Innovation Centres – in this case Agri-EPI – academic and research organisations can also be engaged to further develop technologies, so they are appropriate to the local context.
Dave Ross, Chief Executive of Agri-EPI said:
There are tremendous opportunities for trade in Paraguay, where there is openness to the UK and great interest in our agri-tech know-how. It is worth highlighting the benefits of the local Maquila regime that affords benefits for UK companies who become active in Paraguay, and then qualify for tariff-efficient access to whole of Mercosur, the Southern Common Market. We thank the companies who took part in the mission and look forward to continuing our exciting collaboration with UK and Paraguay partners.
Ian Cox, Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead of Innovate UK, added:
Innovate UK is particularly happy to have supported this Smart Farm in Paraguay. I am heartened by the progress made in demonstrating how UK technology can help to reduce the environmental footprint of farming in Paraguay whilst at the same time improving productivity and profitability. I hope this can lead to further joint collaborations with Paraguay companies to develop further the technologies needed to help solve some of the fundamental problems the planet faces to feed a growing global population.