Roundtable: AgriTech in Latin America
Roundtable: AgriTech in Latin America
Investors in agricultural tech will find the right countries at an opportune moment in Latin America, agreed panelists in this inaugural June 2023 event.
- Ricardo Almeida, CEO Mercosur, Netafim
- David Brogeras, Head of Digital Transformation, IDB Invest
- Herbert Lewy, General Manager of Agribusiness, Microsoft Latin America
- Luciano Ramos, Country Manager, Brazil and author, IT Role in the Agribusiness in Brazil (2023), International Data Corporation
- Jorge Werthein, Senior Advisor to Director General, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
- Guillermo Zubillaga, Senior Director & Chief Information Officer, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
Council of the Americas held its first “AgriTech in Latin America” roundtable in São Paulo, in partnership with Microsoft, IDB Invest, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on June 20, 2023. The event convened private sector executives, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to discuss the role of technology in agriculture. The discussions revolved around how to leverage technological advancements to achieve higher yields, sustainable development, and food security.
In a fireside chat, Herbert Lewy of Microsoft Latin America and David Brogeras of IDB Invest set the stage for the discussion by presenting the current landscape of agricultural technology in the region. Lewy highlighted the sector’s preparedness to attract investments, noting that “this is the most interdependent ecosystem we can think of.” Brogeras outlined IDB Invest’s priorities in the region, including engaging the private sector, promoting sustainability, and enhancing competitiveness. He also stressed the importance of scalability, reliability, and human resources.
Ricardo Almeida of Netafim, offered an optimistic outlook for AgriTech in Brazil, commending the adaptability of Brazilian farmers to new technologies. With expertise in water management and irrigation, Brazil, according to Almeida, is considered an agricultural powerhouse and the CEO assured private sector players and investors that they are in the right country at an opportune moment. Luciano Ramos of the International Data Corporation (IDC), shared insights from a recent IDC study on the IT sector in agriculture. The findings reinforced the indispensable role IT plays in agribusiness development, including smart tech prioritization, reliance on external data sources, and traceability and visibility throughout the value chain. Jorge Werthein of the IICA, focused on the imperative of enhancing connectivity in rural areas and providing adequate training in digital skills. Werthein emphasized the need to bridge the digital divide in rural areas and to foster public-private partnerships.
The conversation continued with active participation from attendees, who introduced different topics and themes for discussion. Carmen Sánchez-Laulhé, vice president for Latin America at Atrevia, stressed the importance of involving governments from across Latin America in these discussions to boost partnerships and improve access to new technologies. Nataly Barros, regional sourcing and sustainability manager at Mars, highlighted the need to make climate change mitigation a top priority when looking for innovative solutions in the field.
This roundtable marked the beginning of the AS/COA’s AgriTech Working Group, which seeks to convene conversations in different cities and engage key stakeholders dedicated to innovative business opportunities in this critical sector for the region.
In the words of Randy Melzi, AS/COA vice president of public policy programs and corporate relations: “It was a great pleasure for the Council of the Americas to collaborate with Microsoft, IDB Invest, and IICA on such a very informative and enriching hybrid roundtable on AgriTech in São Paulo. AgriTech will transform the agriculture and food sector and has the power to enable small farmers to increase productivity, expand access to markets, oversee water management, and mitigate climate risk in a region that totals approximately 36 percent of the world’s net food exports but where 22.5 percent of the population suffers from food insecurity. The multidimensional audience discussed sustainability; water; climate change; micro farming; connectivity; and government cooperation, among other topics. We look forward to continuing the fascinating and inspiring dialogue with many more stakeholders from both the public and private across Latin America.”