Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Developing crop experts in Latin America

Latin America plays a fundamental role in the production of grains, fruits, and vegetables that are part of people's daily diet around the world. The individual regions in Latin America, however, are very diverse. Bayer has introduced a program to train crop experts to strengthen regional agriculture.
Crop Masters work with growers in the field to support them in implementing good agricultural practices

The countries and regions of Latin America all have different characteristics, favoring a certain type of agriculture in each location. Understanding these realities is essential to expand production capacity.

To better help producers sustainably improve their output in both quantity and quality, Bayer has been investing in the “Crop Masters” program since 2016. “The goal is to develop experts in key crops in each region,” says Arturo Peyloubet, Marketing Director in Hispano-America for Bayer’s Crop Science Division. “These experts work with local farmers and promote good agricultural practices such as integrated pest and crop management programs as well as global sustainability and food safety standards.”

At the moment, 30 Crop Masters are being trained in coffee, potatoes, and tomatoes. They go through extensive training with face-to-face courses and online seminars to improve their knowledge in technical, leadership, and business aspects. With this preparation, they can offer producers integrated solutions based on the reality of each country through consultancy and training.

Astrid Beatriz Castillo Sarceno, a Crop Masters graduate in Guatemala

Early success in Mexico and Guatemala

The “Crop Masters” program is already bearing fruit in Mexico, one of the world’s top tomato exporters. According to the nation’s Agenda 2030, Mexico will export 2.17 million tons of tomatoes in 2018, with an approximate value of two billion US dollars. The major challenges in Mexican tomato cultivation are in the areas of pest management and market access. To overcome this, Bayer offers best-practice cultivation techniques via the “Crop Masters” program, to effectively protect against nematodes for example. As a result, Mexican tomatoes meet the food safety requirements of the United States and Canada, two major export markets for Mexican tomato processors.

In Guatemala, coffee is the country’s major crop, with a total of US$749 million in exports in 2017 according to CentralAmericaData. Guatemala is impacted by climate change, which severely affects the presence of pests and diseases such as coffee rust and nematodes. “That and the low coffee bean prices in the international market make it virtually impossible for farmers to cover the production costs,” says Juan Carlos Toledo, agricultural engineer at FEDECOCAGUA. Bayer has been working together with the Federación de Cooperativas Agrícolas de Productores de Café de Guatemala, which brings together more than 25,000 coffee producers. Thanks to the support of the Crop Masters, these farmers benefit from the knowledge of good agricultural practices, technical support in the field, farm advice, and training. This collaboration also includes knowledge exchanges between Latin American countries to optimize the sensory and organoleptic qualities of coffee.

Local expertise for global food security

“The ‘Crop Masters’ program has been so successful that we plan to expand it to other important crops in Latin America next year,” says Arturo Peyloubet. “Always aligning the training of the experts with the specific farmers’ needs.” Investing in expertise and deeper understanding of the needs of each location and each crop is essential to obtain better results in agricultural production. “By training these experts, we continue to contribute to meeting the growing demand for food, not only in our region but around the world.”

Info box

What are the organoleptic qualities of coffee?

Organoleptic properties are characteristics that can be experienced via the senses – including taste, sight, smell, and touch. Like makers of fine wines, coffee producers are perfecting their knowledge of coffee beans, the roasting process, and other components to offer a high-quality and delicious coffee experience.

Bayer Division Crop Science

Food Chain Partnership
Phone: +49 2173 38 48 28
Fax: +49 2173 38 33 83

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