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BioWorks updates formulation with new Rootshield Plus WP biofungicide

BioWorks launches PERpose Plus algaecide and fungicide

With the acquisition of certain assets of AGA (A Growing Alternative) and specific product registration assets from H&I Agritech this year, BioWorks continues to execute growth strategies to better serve customers and support its core purpose of growing their team, serving others and saving the earth.

The acquisitions have allowed BioWorks to enrich the products, services and support they offer customers in all the markets they serve. BioWorks continues to actively search for acquisitions and partnerships that will allow them to help their customers succeed in all aspects of their operations.

“These acquisitions continue to support our growth strategies.” said Bill Foster, President. “We continually look for ways to innovate and differentiate in ways that matter to our customers. These are just two examples of strategies we are developing and executing to ensure BioWorks is around for the next 100 years.”

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of a minor use label expansion registration for Lalstop G64 WG Biological Fungicide on select greenhouse crops.

This fungicide (previously known as Prestop WG) is approved for suppression of soil-borne and foliar diseases on greenhouse-grown eggplant, Asian water spinach, strawberries and indoor-grown cannabis in Canada.

Containing Gliocladium catenulatum strain J1446, Lalstop G64 WG Biological Fungicide was already labeled for use on several greenhouse-grown vegetables, herbs and ornamentals in Canada for management of these diseases.

These minor use projects were submitted by Ontario as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel.

The following is provided as an abbreviated, general outline only. Users should be making pest management decisions within a robust integrated pest management program and should consult the complete label before using Lalstop G64 WG Biological Fungicide.

Growers are encouraged to follow precautions, restrictions and directions for use on the Lalstop G64 WG Biological Fungicide label carefully.

Climatic conditions and the history from previous seasons indicate that the incidence of corn leafhopper could be high in the second crop of 2020-2021 in Brazil, the planting of which begins in January next year. 

Infestations in the summer harvest are usually reduced but increase when the leafhoppers multiply, to attack later. Therefore, now is the ideal time to plan insect control, preferably with integrated pest management.

According to a researcher at Embrapa Cerrados, Sergio Abud da Silva, several actions are needed to reduce the incidence of this pest and corn stunting disease, which it transmits, such as crop rotation, use of certified and treated seeds, the maintenance of sowing windows from 20 to 30 days, and the diversification of cultivars and application of insecticides, among others.

The biological insecticide Octane (Isaria fumosorosea) has been suggested for the management of corn leafhopper because it has a prolonged action in the field, with a good residual, with more chances of reaching migratory insects, besides not causing resistance in the pest. “The results are excellent, with up to 85% efficiency in the control of corn leafhoppers,” stated the Koppert Center-South sales manager, Rodrigo Rodrigues.

For da Silva, it was important to highlight the fact that the use of biological insecticides in combination with chemicals provides the immediate shock effect of chemical control and the residual control effect with the biological, expanding the managing of the insect-vector. “After the application of insecticides, monitoring should continue to prevent re-infestation of the area,” he advised.

According to the researcher, the scenario of internal and external demand for Brazilian cereal led Brazil to produce two and even three annual crops of the grain in several regions. “Whether cultivated or tiguera (voluntary), the constant presence of corn in the field creates an environment favorable to the increase of corn leafhopper populations and the complex of stunting diseases, which can cause a reduction of up to 100% in infected plants. In areas with a high incidence, damage to productivity can be over 70%,” da Silva explained.

Monitoring carried out by companies associated with CropLife Brasil, shows that the occurrence of stagnation and an increase in the population level of the corn leafhopper in several Brazilian states, mainly during the 2015-2016 harvest. The largest outbreaks were identified in regions of Bahia, Goiás, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná.

Agribusiness is the most dynamic sector of the Brazilian economy and in 2020, even with the Covid-19 pandemic, it managed to escape unhurt from the entire crisis that has been devastated the planet. In my 25 years of agribusiness, I had never witnessed so many transformations that we suffered, the forced use of digital tools to increase sales of consumer goods, health, education, and so many other services through mobile devices, affected not only our personal life but also changed our entire professional life. 

In Brazilian agribusiness, we did not stop, with most cities in lockdown, the farmer continued to go on in this almost one year of a pandemic. With that, several opportunities for new business appeared, several entrepreneurs emerged and new solutions were created. In this dynamic and high-intensity environment, it was the ideal stage for the creation of several startups. 

Startups with a focus on agribusiness, also called Agtechs, are becoming more and more numerous, recent research shows that in a universe of 12,000 startups in Brazil there are almost 1100 focused on agribusiness, reflecting the great weight of Agribusiness in the Brazilian economy. In recent years, improving infrastructure in Brazil, such as connectivity, mobile penetration, satellite images, digital literacy, has been fundamental to the development of this Agtech ecosystem.

I wanted in this article and based on my experiences as a professional who worked in the area of production goods, in the distribution of inputs, and on weekends as a farmer, to highlight 13 startups that in my opinion bring something different and a very clear focus on a clear solution for the chain. They are startups to keep an eye on:

Agristamp:

Headquartered in São Paulo / SP, Agristamp is a simple and fast platform for contracting agricultural insurance. The agricultural insurance market in Brazil was in the not-too-distant past bureaucratic and very expensive. Understanding these needs from farmers, Agristamp created one platform with insurance products that are simple, accessible and effective in reducing climate risks. The technology in association with multiple Insurance Companies allows to the distribution of insurance efficiently, maximizes the benefits for the entire chain and guarantees a policy up to 72 hours. (www.agristamp.com.br  ).

Atomic Agro:

Atomic is a company from Uberlândia / MG, which started with the objective of creating a database structure, which, through interviews, aimed to catalyze information such as property size, planted varieties, production cost, harvest performance, price of inputs, and much more.

They currently have a database of more than 35,000 farmers, 10,000 of whom interact with the app weekly. This App provides the farmer free of charge: Information on the most planted cultivars in the region he is located in, planting and cultivar performance, social network, and product quotation. With this great potential of customers, I see Atomic as an ideal platform for small and medium farmers (Up to 4000 hectares) who want to compare their productive and financial performance with farmers of the same size and in the same location, and also as an easy and agile way to obtain credit for production, as the interaction with the platform will speed up contact with credit providers. (www.atomicagro.com)

Bart Digital:

Bart digital is headquartered in Londrina / PR and was created to solve problems in the financing processes, we all know how bureaucratic Brazil is, and Bart's solution mainly regarding receivables and guarantees issues brought reliability and agility to the system. Among Bart Digital's main achievements, I highlight the creation of the first digital CPR that saved time and money for the farmer, the distributor, and the companies that work with this asset as a way of securing the business. In my experience, using this tool has reduced the time required to formalize these guarantees by 75%. (www.bartdigital.com.br)

Digifarmz:

DigiFarmz is a digital platform created by one of the largest Fitopathologists in Brazil, Ricardo Balardin, who has used more than 18 biotic and abiotic factors to support the farmer for decision making. Through research data, climatological information, cultivar genetics, sowing dates, location, and other parameters, this tool presents intelligent recommendations that help producers, agronomists, and consultants in the phytosanitary management of soybean diseases. The platform advises on what to use (fungicides, mixtures, etc.), when (ideal date of each spray), how much (number of sprays to be carried out), and on anti-resistance management. And the database (crowdsourcing + field research), which is constantly expanding, also makes it possible to optimize resources and investments in farming, helping to reduce the impact on the environment. (www.digifarmz.com)

Flex Interativa:

The interactive Flex is located in SP and has as a proposition one great appeal to agribusiness: “Ideas that can be touched”. 

Have you ever thought about the possibility of real objects interacting with virtual objects? We learn agronomy in a way that makes it difficult to imagine how the products interacted within the plant, how the different products and modes of action acted, or even how the plants did the metabolism. These technologies will help us to better understand these factors and better train technicians and farmers, in addition to being able to be much more agile, flexible, and efficient on field days, training and training. 

In my opinion, these technologies will initially be used by manufacturers, but it can also be used by farmers, who visited Jolimont winery (www.tourduvin.tur.br) in Canela / RS, can see what virtual reality can do to delight consumers. (www.flexinterativa.com.br)

Go-Flux:

The biggest difficulty in logistics today, despite the dependence on highways, distance from routes, deficient infrastructure, and old and inadequate processes is that the costs are very high in the entire work process. 

From imported Crop Inputs to the amounts spent on vehicle maintenance, the Farmers and Agri-companies face challenges and difficulties in reducing costs. Go Flux, the unique Logtech in my list, it is a startup founded in 2018 and elected one of the 100 best startups in Brazil, was born out of this non-conformity of doing things always the same way. Why has freight been contracted the same way for years? Why hasn't the digital revolution changed the shape of these operations yet? Why haven't we had innovative solutions on this topic yet? 

Go Flux tries to provide more transparency, agility, and increased efficiency through a platform that allows making BIDs, with a closed Market Place, including the parameters appropriate to your business, data of your demand, and an indication of the price to be paid for the route. With the involvement of several suppliers in dynamic quotes 100% online, you can view bids in real-time. The main benefits are Intelligence and compliance of operations, Reduction of costs, and gain in competitiveness. In my previous company, for example, we had a reduction of 8% for all our logistic cost. (www.goflux.com.br)

Grão Direto:

Grão Direto was created in Uberaba and gained notoriety for being the only Brazilian startup to be invited to BlackBox Connect, an immersion program in Silicon Valley. Besides, it was also called for the Scale-Up acceleration program (Algar+Endeavor). Her goal is to connect farmers, buyers, brokers, and warehouses making the purchase and sale of corn, soy, sorghum, and other grains more modern and safe. 

Everyone has access to the best information to trade and the more informed they are, the greater their chances of making the best deals. Through technology, sellers and buyers can negotiate grains much more quickly and efficiently, both for negotiations in the available market, forward or barter. 

Grão Direto was created to support all the profiles of the chain: cooperatives, tradings, resellers, traditional brokers, feed factories, stockholders, traders, and much more, generating gains in market intelligence for producers and buyers to make the best decisions and more agility in processes associated with commercialization (logistics, contract management, financial products and more). (www.graodireto.com.br)

INOVAFARM:

It is an AgriTech founded in 2019 in the city of Alfenas / MG, which develops technologies to revolutionize agribusiness, making life easier for people in the countryside. It provides the farmer (Cattleman) with tools to make decisions quickly, easily, accurately, and efficiently. One of the products that most stands out in my opinion and that uses the technology of the internet of things are the necklaces for cattle, the smart scales, and the sensors of behavior and reproduction, where the farmer has access in real-time and from any location to your entire squad and can improve resources by avoiding waste of time and resources. (www.inovafarm.com.br)

Safetrace:

One of the greatest lessons learned from this crisis is that consumers and importing countries will increasingly the use of  phytosanitary barriers to regulate markets and their respective internal deficiencies and trade balance. 

Based on this, for the Brazilian farmer, it is not enough to produce well anymore, we will have to prove that we produce well and sustainably. Safe Trace is a company from Itajubá / MG, specialized in the traceability of the food production chain, integrating information from all links, from the producer to the consumer's dish. When purchasing products with the Safe Trace seal, you will know where the food consumed comes from; in addition to making sure that the producer is acting by socio-environmental and health standards, thanks to a strict monitoring process. 

Another technology that has been developed by safetrace and that promises superior results is the block chain solution, which can be used in the entire production chain, including raw material production, industrialization, and commercialization. This technology will be able to register, store, organize, track, and make available information collected along the chain, from the implementation in the field to the final stages of production. (www.safetrace.com.br)

Seedz:

Seedz is headquartered in Belo Horizonte (MG), founded in 2017, and has developed loyalty software that values the relationship between farmers and ranchers with agribusiness companies and also from other sectors, a company that has innovation as its main asset. The solution is very simple when buying products from partner companies, a seedz accumulates a virtual currency, which can be exchanged on the platform for products and even courses, thus encouraging these producers to reinvest in their farms, creating thus a new model of buying and selling focused on trust and transparency. 

The positive point is that it is a multi-brand platform, allowing for greater optimization, diversification, and customization of programs, including easy adaptation to a proprietary market place. Another attraction that Seedz offers, is that its incentive platform through gamification and customization can be easily implemented and with a better cost-benefit.

All of this with just a common fashion, which is Seedz, making the business environment more transparent and accessible to everyone. The platform is already used by more than 60 thousand registered producers from all over Brazil and also 5,000 professionals in the sector. Also, there are already 300 companies registered in different segments of the agribusiness such as seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, financial services, animal health and nutrition, machinery, equipment, logistics, among other solutions. The highlight for multinationals such as UPL, Yara, John Deere, Agro Galaxy, Helm, Agro100, Agro Ferrari and cooperatives such as Cocamar. (www.seedz.ag)

Solubio:

The market for crop protection products in Brazil is around the US $12 billion and is growing at around 2-4% per year and has been suffering several restrictions in recent years. As a result, the increase in demand for more sustainable products and alternatives to chemicals in agriculture drives the market for biological pesticides, not only in Brazil but in the world. 

A survey by the consultancy Spark Inteligência Estrategica and released in October showed that the Brazilian market moved almost US $ 200 million in the 2019/20 harvest, 46% more than in the previous season. In this sense, the area potentially treated with biologicals increased by 23%, to 19.4 million hectares. 

With this growing market, a technology that seems promising to me is that which allows the farmer to produce biological pesticides on his farm, reducing the costs with these inputs in soy, corn, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, coffee, etc..by up to 40%. With the technology of Solubio, a startup founded in Gurupi / TO, the “bio-factories” that are automated equipment for the multiplication of bacteria, can be customized according to the customer's needs. Currently, the company serves 100 large producers in an area of 1 million hectares and with 150 biofactories installed. (www.solubio.agr.br)

Terra Magna

Terra Magna is a geospatial Big Data company from São José dos Campos / SP, focused on the agricultural and forestry sector, which uses satellite images to measure, predict and control biological assets, generating insights for the agribusiness chain. 

The company improves field operations by monitoring weed infestations on planted areas and performing risk management for agribusiness financiers. By combining cloud computing and satellite images with the remote sensing industry, Terra Magna enables farmers and other players to better understand their land, their businesses, and the entire market, through maps with the status of cultivated land. 

The proposal is to offer greater security to banks, cooperatives, and agro-industries in financial operations and the management of collateral loans for agribusiness. It is essential in the environment of agribusiness in Brazil.

The solution also serves the Farmer/Producer , who can use the data to be able to access lower interest rates. 22,000 farms are monitored weekly. (www.terramagna.com.br).

TrAIve

Traive is another AGfinTech that will “Thrive” due to the size of the market and the constant need for capital by farmers. Founded in 2018, the company facilitates loans to the agriculture industry, offering to both farmers and lenders innovative financial solutions and unique access to marketplace lending. Recently received a contribution of R$ 14 Mio from SP Ventures that will be used to increase the team and invest in technology. Today two cooperatives and seven dealers will use Traive’s solution and the expectative for 2021 is to increase by more than 30. 

With offices in São Paulo, Minneapolis, and Boston. Traive also comes to fulfill one important gap in the sector. Remembering that the more credit the more will be the investments in technology, crop inputs, and productivity by the farmer. (www. traivefinance.com)

It is worth remembering that 2020 was the year with the largest number of mergers and acquisitions of Brazilian startups in all, more than 100 M&A of startups were carried out in the last nine months but none of the major investments were in the agribusiness segment. 

The investments were in sectors that benefited from the new consumer habits, be they financial: (US$ 300 million for fintech Neon and R$ 1.3 billion for C6 Bank), of electronic retail, (US$ 225 million for the e-commerce platform VTEX) and games, such as the unicorn (Wildlife, with a contribution of US $ 120 million). To get an idea of values, the Higher contribution to an Agtech in Latin America was that of the Brazilian Solifintech, which at the beginning of 2020 raised US$ 60 million and almost exceeded the total of last year in contribution to the category, followed weeks later for Argentinean Agrofy, which received US$ 23 million for its marketplace. 

In a huge and bureaucratic market such as that of Brazilian agribusiness, innovation within large companies is a costly and time-consuming process.

I leave here my suggestion of companies that have all the potential for growth and acceptance by agribusiness players and who may have the same success as Adtechs and Fintechs.

With a new strategic partnership, Frenchman Valley Farmers Cooperative (FVC) is launching a line of crop inputs with VantagePoint. 

The branded products include WatchTower ST seed treatments, StandKing plant growth regulator, OutPost drift control, water conditioners, surfactants, and RoyalGreen micronutrients nutritionals, which are all now available for sale through FVC’s advisors. 

“Through the VantagePoint brand, FVC will be positioned to provide customers with the most agronomically-sound chemistry at a cost point that lowers their cost without compromising performance,” said John Bender, Frenchman Valley CEO in a news release. “FVC will be better able to provide the necessary crop enhancement products and further grow our relationships with our customers.”

Ben Sauder FVC Vice President of Agronomy said the new products are well suited for the geography and agronomic challenges in FVC’s area of Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas. 

“We have devoted years and countless resources into providing our growers with the most logical solutions to our tough problems,” Sauder said. “We have a very thorough evaluation process that we run all chemicals and enhancement products through before we sell them. If something does not work. We want to find that out in our evaluations, not on one of our customer’s acres.”

With the launch of these branded products, the cooperative aims to continue to grow its business. 

“These branded-label products will be produced specifically for us and will fit well into our long-term strategy of serving members/customers all across our four-state service area,” said Jim Haarberg, Chairman of the FVC Board of Directors. 

This launch is in partnership with Meristem Crop Performance.

Symborg recruits Francisco Javier García Domínguez as new Chief Marketing Officer

Urdecon to build first phase of Symborg's new €28m plant

Symborg is a leading company in the biotechnology applied to agriculture sector with presence in more than 50 countries. Thanks to SOPEF’s entry, Symborg strengthens its shareholding structure and obtains financial support as part of its strategic growth and expansion plan. Spain Oman Private Equity Fund (“SOPEF”), the investment fund managed by MCH Private Equity has completed its fourth transaction through the investment in Symborg.

Symborg was established in Murcia in 2009 and is a leading company specialised in biotechnology research and development with agricultural innovation, providing farmers innovative solutions that optimize their crops and ensure the conservation of their habitats and ecosystems. Symborg has established itself as a world reference in the development of biostimulants based on microorganisms whereby the applications to agricultural uses are patent protected.

Over the last years, the Company has evolved from its first products based on mycorrhizal fungi to the development of biofertilizers such as BlueN, which allows the plant to naturally nourish itself with nitrogen, reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers through a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution.

In this new stage, SOPEF and Symborg’s shareholders aim to promote and consolidate the international growth strategy of the Company, taking advantage of the industry trends which are evolving towards sustainable solutions. The objective is to meet the food demand of a growing population facing the challenges that climate change will present in the coming years.

As a result of the agreement, Symborg reinforces its shareholding structure by a strategic partner who adds a markable contributions to continue supporting the company's expansion plan. The expansion plan includes the construction of a production plant in Alhama de Murcia to incorporate new products into the existing portfolio. This will facilitate the international consolidation to key agricultural markets such as the United States and Latin America.

According to Jesús Juárez, founding partner and CEO of Symborg, “Our objectives of growth, professionalism and leadership find in the SOPEF Fund a great ally. The commitment of this prestigious fund with Symborg reinforces our strategic plan, which will consolidate us as international leaders in agricultural biotechnology in the coming years.”

Jesús Juárez, founding partner and CEO of Symborg

According to Jose Manuel de Bartolome, Partner of SOPEF, “Symborg meets all the requirements that are sought in private equity investments. It is a growth project, born purely from an entrepreneurship consolidated by development of proprietary technology. The market presents great opportunities in the coming years and the Company has a top-level management team who have in mind a very defined business plan to undertake”.

About SOPEF

Spain Oman Private Equity Fund – SOPEF was constituted in 2018 with the ultimate objective of supporting the international development of Spanish companies through the acquisition of temporary minority stakes. The fund’s investors are COFIDES, FIEX and the Oman Investment Authority and count with a total capital commitment of 200 million euros. The fund is managed by MCH Private Equity Investments, one of the leading Iberian private equity firms focused on mid-sized companies.

The Compañía Española de Financiación al Desarrollo (“COFIDES”) is a state-owned company which offers financial support to Spanish companies investing abroad. It is the exclusive manager of FIEX and FONPYME funds on behalf of the Secretariat of State for Trade attached to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Shareholders include Banco Santander, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Banco Sabadell and CAF-Development Bank of Latin America.

Oman Investment Authority (OIA) was established in June 2020 by merging the 'State General Reserve Fund' and 'Oman Investment Fund', under the Royal Decree No. 61/2020. OIA is the sovereign wealth fund of Oman which invests locally and internationally to achieve financial stability and diversity for the Sultanates economy. OIA aims to be a substantial resource that provides financial stability and diversity to the country’s economy while ensuring the continued development of the country by investing in a diversified portfolio of asset types in about 35 countries worldwide.

About Symborg 

Founded in Murcia in 2009 by Jesús Juárez and Félix Fernández, both with vast professional careers in the fields of research and agriculture, Symborg has consolidated itself as a leading company in the sector of biotechnology and agricultural innovation with presence in more than 50 countries.

Symborg produces and markets exclusive fertilizers based on natural biological processes that strengthen the roots of plants and improve their physiological activity, increasing the production and quality of the crops. Based on natural processes, Symborg's products are 100% sustainable and benefit the environment.

Solvay-Novecare appoints Red River Specialties, LLC (RRSI), an Azelis company, as their exclusive distributor for agricultural inert ingredients and tankmix adjuvants in North America

Westport, CT – Effective August 24th, 2020, Red River Specialties, LLC (RRSI), an Azelis company, was appointed the exclusive distributor of the Solvay-Novecare Agricultural Specialties line of agricultural inert ingredients and tankmix adjuvants to both US and Canadian markets. This new Solvay-Novecare mandate for RRSI expands a successful partnership between Solvay-Novecare and Azelis in Europe. Highlights & rationale

● This mandate expands our relationship with a strategic principal, Solvay-Novecare, across market segments and regions

● The new mandate reinforces Azelis’ position as a leading Specialty Horti/Agri distributor in the Americas with industry-focused, dedicated technical sales team

● This partnership expansion fits perfectly with Azelis’ strategy to grow organically with its key principles.

The Novecare Agricultural Specialties provide a broad range of agricultural co-formulants including Soprophor®, AgRho®, Rhodacal®, Geronol®, Rhodiasolv®, and Geropon®, that are used as adjuvants in agricultural formulations as well as ready to use formulations for agricultural applications. Red River Specialties, LLC will leverage its leading position to grow the Solvay’s inerts and tankmix adjuvants business in the North American market with their extensive knowledge and network of adjuvant manufacturers and other potential Solvay customers.

Mike Cage, Executive Vice President, RRSI, an Azelis company states:

“The Solvay line of active ingredients is a great addition to our portfolio and will be embraced by our customers. Our technical sales team will help our customers with all of the technical support needed. I am confident Red River will grow this business and that we are entering a relationship that will be highly successful for all parties involved - RRSI, Solvay and our customers.”

Benoit Abribat, Vice President, Solvay Novecare Agricultural Specialties commented:

“We are very excited to embark on this new partnership in North America which naturally evolved from our actual successes of Azelis partnerships in Europe and Asia. Solvay and RRSI are both market leaders and are fully complementary between the Solvay sustainable technologies/formulations and Red River’s highly experienced sales team: the perfect match to better serve our customers.”

About Azelis

Azelis is a leading distributor of specialty chemicals and food ingredients present in over 40 countries across the globe with around 2,000 employees. Our knowledgeable teams of industry, market and technical experts are each dedicated to a specific market within Life Sciences and Industrial Chemicals. We offer a lateral value chain of complementary products to about 40,000 customers, creating a turnover of €1.94 billion. In the US we operate under a number of renowned co-brands that cater to the various markets in the region.

Throughout our extensive network of 60 application laboratories, our award-winning technical staff help customers develop formulations. We combine a global reach with a local focus to offer a reliable, integrated service to local customers and attractive business opportunities to principals. And we believe in building and nurturing solid, honest and transparent relationships with our people and partners.

Impact through ideas. Innovation through formulation.

AMVAC®, an American Vanguard® company, and Syngenta® Crop Protection have teamed up to promote the agronomic value of tank mixing FirstRate® herbicide with Prefix®, Boundary® 6.5 EC or BroadAxe® XC herbicide for long-lasting and full-season weed control in soybeans.

The combination of FirstRate and Syngenta herbicides provides unmatched flexibility and performance across all soybeans, including conventional, LibertyLink®, GT27®, Enlist®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® and XtendFlex® soybeans. Together they provide unique flexibility and performance, resulting in better on-farm solutions for tough-to-control weeds.

“Not only do these herbicides provide excellent crop safety, the combination also delivers multiple modes of action to address tough-to-control weeds, such as waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed, common ragweed, morningglory and marestail,” said Nathaniel Quinn, marketing manager for corn, soybeans and sugar beet. “Soybean growers should talk to their trusted retailers to further discuss the weed control benefits these herbicides provide.”

BioForest/Lallemand Inc. (BioForest) registers LALCIDE CHONDRO bioherbicide for control of glossy and common buckthorn in Canada. The herbicide is a biological solution that provides land managers a more environmentally sensitive option to combat buckthorn.

The active ingredient is a naturally occurring wood decay fungus called Chondrostereum purpureum (Cp), which can colonize freshly cut stumps and wounds. The Cp causes silver leaf disease on stump sprouts post-harvest. It does this by releasing an enzyme which disrupts the middle lamella between the epidermal cells and palisade cells of the leaves, causing the two layers to separate. The change in cell arrangement results in a change of reflectivity of the leaf, resulting in a silvered appearance. This will control and inhibit the stump sprouts.

Buckthorn is an invasive shrub or small tree species in North America. It grows vigorously and spreads aggressively, invading urban and commercial forests, road and trail sides, riverbanks, pastures and hydro corridors. Buckthorn outcompetes natural regeneration, displaces native plant species, can alter ecosystems for both flora and fauna and can significantly affect soil.

"LALCIDE CHONDRO trials have been conducted on both girdling and cut stump operations. Efficacy is determined by stump mortality, and our trial results range from 81 to 100 percent effectiveness, 24 month post application," says Elsa Cousineau, Technical Specialist, ISA® Certified Arborist at BioForest.

LALCIDE CHONDRO should be applied in late spring to early summer when buckthorn is fully leafed out. A thin layer of product is applied to a freshly cut stump or girdle wound within 30 minutes of cutting; one application is required per stem.

LALCIDE CHONDRO is a commercially registered pesticide which can only be applied by licensed pesticide applicators. It will be available for pre-order in Canada in early 2021.

Christian Elleby, Ignacio Pérez Domínguez, Marcel Adenauer & Giampiero Genovese 

Environmental and Resource Economics volume 76, pages1067–1079(2020)

Abstract

This paper analyses the impacts on global agricultural markets of the demand shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the first wave of lockdown measures imposed by the governments in the first semester of 2020 to contain it. Specifically, we perform a scenario-based analysis on the IMF economic growth forecasts for 2020 and 2021 using a global multi-commodity agricultural market model. According to our results, the sharp decline in economic growth causes a decrease in international meat prices by 7–18% in 2020 and dairy products by 4–7% compared to a business as usual situation. Following the slowdown of the economy, biofuel prices fall strongly in 2020, followed by their main feedstocks, maize and oilseeds. Although the income losses and local supply chain disruptions associated with the pandemic undoubtedly has led to an increase in food insecurity in many developing countries, global food consumption is largely unaffected due to the inelastic demand of most agricultural commodities and the short duration of the shock. From an environmental viewpoint, the COVID-19 impacts point to a modest reduction of direct greenhouse gases from agriculture of about 1% or 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2020 and 2021.

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the loss of more than 500 thousand lives out of 10.3 million confirmed cases (as of June 30, 2020), has also caused a global downturn comparable, by some measures, to that of the great depression in the 1930s. The causes of the two economic crises are, however, very different and it is also believed that the recovery from the current crisis will be faster than the recovery from the great depression.

There is still a lot of uncertainty though, as to how long the COVID-19 recession will last and what the global economic consequences will be in the medium term. It depends on a number of factors affecting supply and demand of all good including agricultural commodities. These include, how quickly businesses around the world will be able to re-open from the lockdowns; whether there will be secondary waves forcing governments to impose new lockdown measures; how soon a vaccine and/or an effective treatment against the SARS-CoV-2 virus is available and how all this affect consumer spending patterns. Nonetheless, there are already several global economic outlooks that account for the COVID-19 impact in their GDP projections. The IMF, World Bank and OECD forecasts for the global GDP contraction in 2020 are in the range 3.0–7.5% and the forecasts for the ensuing global GDP increase in 2021 range from 2.8 to 5.8% (World Bank 2020; IMF 2020; OECD 2020a). Building on the IMF forecast, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that the economic contraction in 2020 could increase the number of people living in extreme poverty by a staggering 20% or 140 million people, which will result in a heightened level of food insecurity in many countries (Laborde et al. 2020).

In this paper, we add to the growing literature on the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with an analysis of the impacts on the global agricultural commodity markets. The pandemic has reminded us just how dependent we are on a well-functioning global food value chain and how vulnerable we are to disruptions in this key sector. A sudden lack of mobility across borders and within countries has caused labour shortages in countries that are reliant on seasonal migrant workers in the agri-food sector, which, in turn, has affected food availability and prices globally (FAO 2020). In India and in several African countries, for example, the price of several key staples have reportedly increased by more than 15% as from pre-COVID-19 levels (Hernandez et al. 2020).

The pandemic has also affected trade of goods through e.g. additional border controls, lack of cargo shipments and reinforced sanitary controls. Moreover, similar to the 2007–2008 food crisis, the pandemic led some countries to impose export restrictions in order to protect their domestic consumers (WTO 2020). Such trade frictions could also affect global food prices.

Due to the lack of data, we do not consider these supply-side disruptions to the agri-food sector in this paper. Instead, we focus on the demand shock caused by a general loss of income affecting consumers’ spending patterns. The resulting lower demand obviously leads to a downward pressure on producer prices and production, but it is not clear, a priori, how large the effect will be in the different interdependent agricultural sectors. The meat sector, for example, is directly affected by lower demand for meat products resulting from lower incomes and by substitution towards cheaper (plant based) sources of calories. However, lower demand for grain and oilseeds also reduces feed costs, so the size of the net effect on production and prices is unclear.

In our discussion of the COVID-19 impacts, we have a particular focus on the biofuel markets. These markets have been especially affected by the pandemic because, of the lockdowns in many countries, which have driven down the demand for transport fuel. Moreover, the resulting fall in international oil prices has made biofuels less competitive with fossil fuels. Lower demand for biofuels affects the demand for its feedstocks, maize and oilseeds, which, in turn, affect the markets for other crops and animal products.

One positive side-effect of the drop in consumption of fuel and the general disruption of economic activity in connection with the pandemic, is a significant decrease in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Le Quéré et al. 2020; Rugani and Caro 2020). For many years, the ‘degrowth’, movement has been arguing for the need to reduce consumption in order to reduce the ecological footprint of human activities (Georgescu-Roegen 1977; Kerschner 2010). More recently, in connection with the adoption of the Paris agreement in 2015, governments around the world have committed to reducing their GHG emissions through national policies in order to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 °C (Schleussner et al. 2016). In the EU, specifically, the European Commission (EC) launched its ‘Green Deal’ in 2019, which aims to have zero net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use.

The agricultural sector is an important contributor to global GHG emissions and the sector, therefore, faces a societal pressure to reduce its climate impact (IPCC 2019; Schiermeier 2019; Wollenberg et al. 2016). In the EU, the EC put forward its legal proposal in 2018 for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period 2021–2027. The proposal introduces a new programming tool call national ‘Strategic Plans’, giving the Member States more freedom to choose and implement policies that can meet the objectives of the future CAP, one of which is ‘climate change action’. These Strategic Plans must reflect the ambition of the Green Deal and are assessed against climate and environmental criteria. In the proposed budget for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, 25% of the Direct Payments Budget is allocated to Eco–Schemes, 30% of the Rural Development funds are allocated to Agro-environmental and Climate Measures and Voluntary Coupled Support is maximized including the additional 2% of Pillar I for protein crops.

In late May, the EC presented its COVID-19 recovery package containing a reinforced EU budget for 2021–2027 as well as a Recovery Instrument called ‘Next Generation EU’, which will allow the EC to borrow up to EUR 750 billion on the financial markets. Included in this is a proposal to increase funding for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development by EUR 15 billion and to strengthen the Just Transition Fund up to EUR 40 billion in order to accelerate the transition towards climate neutrality and to support the changes required to achieve the targets in the Green Deal.

In light of these requirements for the agricultural and other sectors to reduce their climate footprint, and the considerable effort it takes to make this happen, it is interesting to see how the pandemic affects agricultural GHG emissions. We therefore quantify the COVID-19 impact on GHG emissions associated with the agricultural production changes.

Methodology

The Model

The scenario analysis in this paper is based on a set of simulations carried out with the Aglink-Cosimo model. Aglink-Cosimo is a recursive-dynamic partial equilibrium model developed and maintained by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as a collaborative effort (OECD 2015; Araujo-Enciso et al. 2015). The model is used to produce the OECD-FAO and EU Medium Term Agricultural Outlooks, yearly publications aiming to provide baseline projections for the main agricultural commodities over the medium term (OECD-FAO 2019; EC 2019). These deterministic baseline projections are accompanied by a partial stochastic analysis that considers yields, international oil prices and several macroeconomic variables as stochastic variables (Araujo-Enciso et al. 2017).

Scenario Design and Main Assumptions

We analyse a single scenario based on country specific GDP growth forecasts from the IMF World Economic Outlook database (April 2020), supplemented with EU figures from the Spring 2020 Economic Forecast by the European Commission. The scenario shocks are the forecasted GDP growth rates for 2020 and 2021, applied to 2020 GDP baseline and implied scenario value for 2021, respectively. From 2022 and onwards, we assume that the GDPs return to their baseline values. Fig. 1 illustrates the difference in baseline and scenario GDP values. The baseline is the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2019–2028 (OECD-FAO 2019; OECD 2020b) extended to 2030.

In addition to the scenario impacts, expressed as a set of point estimates, we also carry out a stochastic analysis focused on the relationship between international oil prices and agricultural commodity markets. Agricultural and energy markets are interrelated mainly through the production of biofuels (mandated largely) and input costs (e.g. fertiliser costs). Currently we are facing a period of low oil prices, due to a combination of supply and demand factors. However, as discussed below, international oil prices are exogenous in the model and we have not made any assumptions about their deviation from the baseline in order to keep a strict focus on the demand effects of COVID-19. Instead, we quantify the joint distribution of scenario impacts, where the variation comes from alternative oil price projections, based on the historical variation in oil prices.

Results

Global Impacts

In 2020, prices of agricultural commodities and derived products decrease sharply, especially biofuels, meats and vegetable oils. In 2021, the prices are still below their baseline value except for some of the meats (pork and sheep). In 2022 the picture is more mixed, with grains and biofuels being above the baseline and others still below. When we reach 2025, all of the commodity prices are close to their baseline values and, as illustrated in Fig. 2, this continues to be the case until the end of the projection period in 2030.

Regional Impacts

Domestic markets are related to the world market through trade. Therefore, a price increase on the world market will typically cause an increase in the domestic price as well.

As can be seen, the domestic price impacts follow the same patterns as the world prices, with the largest impacts to be found amongst the meats and dairy products, biofuels and biofuel feedstocks. Note, however, that the variation in the impacts caused by oil price volatility is much higher than in the world price case, especially for the biofuels case. More on this below.

Energy Price Uncertainty

As Fig. 3 illustrates, transport fuel demand (incl. biofuels) reacts to changes in GDP, and fuel prices. In the three major biofuel producers US, EU and Brazil, for example, the GDP shocks lead to 4–8% lower gasoline and diesel consumption in 2020, as compared to the baseline, which, in turn, affects demand for biofuels through the blending requirements. Domestic prices of conventional fuels (gasoline and diesel), however, depends only on taxes and the exogenous world market price of oil. Therefore, in light of the recent oil price volatility, it is interesting to see how oil price volatility affects the results.

Percentage difference from the baselineFigure 4 illustrate how the world prices of grains and biofuels in the scenario are affected by variability in the international price of oil. Maize is a feedstock for ethanol production, so it is especially affected by oil price variability. Similarly, vegetable oil (not shown) is the major feedstock for biodiesel, so its price is also sensitive to oil price volatility.

Fig. 4:World prices of grain and biofuels in the baseline and scenario. The grey bands represent uncertainty arising from variation in international oil prices

The column labelled ‘Band  %’ in Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4 summarises how energy price volatility affect world market prices of agricultural commodities. Not surprisingly, the largest differences are for biofuels and their feedstocks (maize, oilseeds and vegetable oils). Biodiesel is the commodity that is most affected by oil prices and its 95% band in Table 1 in is equivalent to 22% of the scenario value in 2030. That is, high and low oil prices can lead to biodiesel prices that are 11% higher or lower than the one we observe in the scenario, based on the oil prices in the baseline, discarding the most extreme simulations from the upper and lower tails of the distributions. Similarly, the last column of Table 2 summarises the effects of oil price volatility on world production. Not surprisingly, the commodities with the highest dependence on oil price volatility are the same ones as in Table 1, namely the biofuels and their feedstocks (maize and oilseeds). Comparing the price bands in Tables 3 and 4 with those in Table 1, shows that the domestic price of biofuels are much more sensitive to international oil prices than their world price counterparts. This is due to biofuel policies that exists in several countries.

Impacts on GHG Emissions

Figure 5 illustrates the estimated impact on the annual direct GHG emission from agriculture (in CO2 equivalents) resulting from the production changes.Footnote8 As one would expect, in light of the modest production changes (Table 1), the emission impacts are also modest. According to the model, the reduction in global GHG emissions in 2020–2022 are 0.2, 1.1 and 1.0%, respectively, relative to the baseline. For some of the large agricultural producers such as USA, Brazil and China, however, the reduction is larger. For China and USA, in particular, the total reduction amounts to around 2.3% in 2022 and the reduction in emissions from animal production is above 3% in 2022 for China. The lagged effects illustrate that it takes several years for the livestock sector to adjust to a demand shock.

Fig. 5:GHG emission from agricultural production. Percentage difference from the baseline

In Fig. 6 the reduction in agricultural GHG emissions, corresponding to the percentage changes in Fig. 5, is broken down into their constituent parts, namely methane (CH4) emissions from enteric fermentation and nitrous oxide (N2O) and CH4 from manure. Most of the GHG reductions come from CH4 emission associated with ruminant production. In absolute terms, these changes correspond to more than 50 Mt of CO2 equivalents in 2020 and 2021.

Fig. 6:GHG emission from agricultural production. Difference from the baseline

Conclusions

Agricultural markets are, like all other sectors, affected by the large drop in consumer spending brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are already several global outlooks projecting the effects on GDP growth and other macro variables. The contribution of this paper is a quantification of the resulting impacts on the global agricultural markets and on the GHG emissions resulting from agricultural production.

Our analysis shows that the economic recession exerts downward pressure on prices, especially for high-value added commodities such as meat products and dairy. The most affected commodities are, however, biofuels and to some extent their feedstocks (e.g. maize in the US and rapeseed in Europe). Demand for these commodities is strongly linked to the demand for transport fuel, but it is also sensitive to changes in the oil price, which affects their competitiveness.

Food consumption is generally quite inelastic and it takes several years for production to adjust fully to a price change, so the GDP shocks only have a modest impact on global production and consumption. The commodities whose production change the most are the high value added products such as meat and dairy, as well as biofuels.

The modest global production changes resulting from the COVID-19 demand shock implies that the effect on global GHG emissions is also modest, around 1% in 2020–2021. However, for some of the large producers the emission reductions, especially from animal production, are in the order of 2–3%. In absolute terms, these changes correspond to around 50 Mt of CO2 equivalents in 2020 and 2021. From a climate policy perspective, the modest impacts on agricultural GHG emissions might seem disappointing. However, it is important to bear in mind that the scenario we consider does not include the effect of the European Green Deal or any other policies that were not implemented in 2019. Such policies that affect production and consumption incentives in the long-term, have the potential for an impact that is much greater than a (hopefully) short-term disruption like the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are several caveats to this analysis that ought to be mentioned. First, the analysis would benefit from a careful consideration of the disruptions to the supply chain brought on by the pandemic, which, reportedly, has resulted in food price increases in many countries. Although we do not model this, it is clear that a scenario with negative production/supply shocks and a reduction in exports by the main grain exporters, in addition to the negative GDP shocks, would lead to less negative price changes and it is possible that there would be price increases as well. An increase in the price of food in a situation where incomes are falling is obviously a major problem for low-income net consumers of food. For this reason, it is crucial to have reliable, quantifiable information about the magnitude of the supply disruptions caused by the pandemic, but the creation of such a database is beyond the scope of this paper.

Another improvement to the paper would be to consider several different GDP projections depending on whether additional infection waves occur in different countries. Finally, we could broaden the stochastic analysis to include macro variables and yields in order to account more fully for the uncertainty inherent in the results. We leave these refinements to future work.

Notes

1.The exact causes of these price changes are unclear at this point.

2.COM(2019) 640 final.

3.COM(2018) 392; COM(2018) 393; and COM(2018) 394.

4.SWD(2020) 93 final.

5.This 30% does not include payments for Areas with Natural Constraints.

6.COM/2020/442 final; COM/2020/456 final. See also Verwey, Langedijk, & Kuenzel (2020)

7.Alternatively, we could have assumed that GDPs will follow a path parallel to their baseline values from 2022 and onwards, such that they remain below the baseline throughout the entire outlook period. Another option would be to let the GDPs converge gradually towards the baseline value at the end of the projection period. A priori, it is not obvious, which of these approaches that is the most appropriate, so we decided to go with the simplest of these for this paper.

8.Note that the emission impacts from changes to transport fuel consumption are not included in these figures.

References

Araujo-Enciso SR, Perez Dominguez I, Santini F, Helaine S (2015). Documentation of the European Comission’s EU module of the Aglink-Cosimo modelling system. Tech. rep., Joint Research Centre (Seville site)

Araujo-Enciso R, Pieralli S, Perez Dominguez I (2017) Partial Stochastic Analysis with the Aglink-Cosimo Model: A Methodological Overview. Tech. rep., Joint Research Centre (Sevillesite).Accessed from http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC108837 EC (2019)

EU agricultural outlook for markets and income, 2019–2030. European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, Brussels

FAO (2020) Migrant workers and the COVID-19 pandemic. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Georgescu-Roegen N (1977) The steady state and ecological salvation: a thermodynamic analysis. Bioscience 27:266–270

Hernandez M, Kim S, Rice B, Vos R (2020) IFPRI’s new COVID-19 Food Price Monitor tracks warning signs of stress in local markets. International Food Policy Research Institute. Accessed from https://www.ifpri.org/blog/ifpris-new-covid-19-food-price-monitor-tracks-warning-signs-stress-local-markets

IMF (2020) World economic outlook, April 2020: the great lockdown. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC

IPCC (2019) Climate Change and Land: anIPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. In: Shukla PR, Skea J, Buendia EC, Masson-Delmotte V, Pörtner H-O, Roberts DC,… Malley J, (eds) In press

Kerschner C (2010) Economic de-growth vs. steady-state economy. J Clean Prod 18:544–551

Laborde D, Martin W, Vos R (2020) Poverty and food insecurity could grow dramatically as COVID-19 spreads. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, DC

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Author information

Affiliations

European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Seville, Spain Christian Elleby, Ignacio Pérez Domínguez & Giampiero Genovese

Agro-Food Trade and Markets Division, OECD, Paris, France Marcel Adenauer

1. Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in immediate, serious, and worldwide human health issues. Necessary counter measures to the virus, e.g. quarantines and other restrictions, will remain in place for many months and have uncertain end dates. International efforts to control the virus by limiting human movement is inevitably causing economic shocks and social costs that will affect the functioning of agricultural and food systems worldwide.

We are already witnessing the indirect effects of the pandemic on agricultural systems across the globe. Massively decreased demand for restaurant and commercial food services in combination with restrictions in labour, processing capacity and/or storage has led to farmers discarding their output en masse. Quarantine measures are severely affecting labour availability for key time-critical farming from sowing vegetable crops to picking fruit. As the crisis develops, these impacts are likely to become more widely and deeply felt in agricultural sectors and national economies.

The significance and severity of the pandemic, and its likely impact on agriculture worldwide, calls for substantial reflection in both the short- and long-term. We need to understand the immediate consequences for the global network of agricultural and food systems on which we rely so heavily. We should track unexpected risks, weaknesses and systemic shifts to understand short-term effects as well as those that may be long-lasting or permanent.

2. Immediate impacts

From the vantage point of the Editorial team, we have identified several dimensions of concern with respect to COVID-19 and agricultural systems - although this list is early and limited and so is inevitably incomplete.

2.1. Food security

Of immediate concern is the disruption to food systems and impact on food security (Torero, 2020). Food distribution channels of almost all countries across the income spectrum have been highly disrupted, with strong negative consequences for the most vulnerable. There is widespread media coverage of sudden decreases in food security due to:

  • loss of income from workers who are fully or partially furloughed affecting their ability to purchase food;
  • stay-at-home orders and restricted physical access to food markets and/or indigenous food gathering activities; closure or diminished capacity of institutions that support food social safety nets, such as food banks and school feeding programs; and
  • market disruptions such as issues with the ability of supermarkets to rapidly restock from centralised distribution systems following unprecedented demand (i.e. panic buying) for pantry staples.
  • wastage of fresh vegetables, fruits and milk due to inability by farmers or entrepreneurs to transport them from point of production to local markets or supermarkets in nearby towns or cities.

How will these shocks ripple outwards to affect broader agricultural systems? What are the likely effects on subsistence systems where farmers and households, that are already food insecure, have less resilience against such large disruptions? How will the international, national and local market disruptions to consumption affect larger scale commercial farm systems, as they contend with volatile market signals and disrupted supply chains?

Will these disruptions be temporary? Or will these sudden negative shocks to food security cause permanent changes in food systems? How will this impact producers, agricultural and food systems in different sectors, industries, regions and economic circumstances?

2.2. Labour availability

A second emerging issue concerns labour availability in the agri-food sector. Labour has been suddenly restricted in many regions due to quarantine measures and loss of workforce from COVID-19 deaths and serious illness. There have been substantial restrictions on international labour movements and worker programs that are critical to agricultural production in some sectors or that have caused bottlenecks. Anecdotally, this seems particularly severe in horticulture, livestock production systems, and processing but also for planting and harvesting of crops that are relatively labour-intensive. The timing of labour needs is often inflexible for seasonally produced foods. Resolving these labour shortages and designing working conditions that are safe for workers and the community, is of critical importance in order to secure future growing seasons and avoid disastrous consequences for future food security and supply.

If COVID-19 is not contained, implying that free and safe movement of agri-food workers will not be attainable for the foreseeable future, how will our agricultural and food systems cope with this loss? Will emergency measures, such as recruiting temporary domestic volunteers or chartering special flights and paying workers during quarantines be sufficient? Can we make workers safer given that many are in dormitory style housing and/or work on assembly lines that are incompatible with maintaining physical distancing? If workers cannot be safe, and be perceived to be so, while the virus is circulating in the community, what will the effects on food systems be? Can all regions fill their labour shortages sufficiently? What different approaches to this problem might there be? Will there be major and permanent changes in international agri-food labour availability and movements and, if so, how might agricultural systems adapt?

2.3. Farm system resilience

A third clear domain of concern is farm system resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic. Which systems are resilient, and which are not? Are small farms, that primarily use family labour and so are less dependent on externally hired labour, more resilient than large farms which depend on external labour? What technological measures could to be adopted to reduce dependency on human labour and gain efficiency in farming? What are the short- and long-term consequences of unequal access to resilience tools and measures? How will local, regional, national and international agricultural systems respond to large losses of agricultural production during the pandemic? Which countermeasures against the virus will have very long-term effects? How can we reorient our agricultural systems to function optimally in a post-COVID-19 world? What is the role of agricultural policy in boosting resilience of agricultural systems? Do our policies need to change going forward or are we already well equipped to safeguard our agricultural systems from similar shocks in the future? What does the COVID-19 pandemic reveal about the overall functioning of our agricultural systems?

2.4. Agricultural system connectivity

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on international relationships far beyond the agri-food sector's labour force. This includes announcements of export restrictions across several countries that limit global agri-food trade and market access (see for example Laborde and IFPRI, 2020). The agri-food sector is highly connected internationally. Ports that shut down or reduce activity, vastly reduced freight capacity on commercial flights for agricultural goods, and other broad global supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 crisis (Ivanov, 2020) have the potential to limit critical access to agricultural inputs and markets. This may negatively impact agricultural productivity for current and future seasons. The suddenness and severity of these shutdowns leave little scope for identifying suitable domestic substitutes in the short term but may spur less reliance on global agri-food value chains in the future. Some nations are also exploring more domestic ‘food sovereignty’ in order to address emerging domestic food security concerns due to COVID-19. These actions have serious implications for our current globalized agri-food trading system and is potentially one of the most important impacts on the current food system.

2.5. Other impacts and questions

Other myriad unanswered questions include understanding the impacts and consequences of:

  • wholesale shifts in market prices and the relative value of agricultural outputs on our agricultural management choices;
  • new competition for critical inputs, especially water, due to increasing emphasis on public health and sanitation systems;
  • impacts of supply chain and processing disruptions on animal welfare;
  • existing economic inequality and relative resilience of agricultural systems, as well as other social network systems reliant on agricultural income generation and stability;
  • the compound effects of so many human system shocks and the behaviour of the natural capital systems that support agriculture overall; and
  • disruptions to research and monitoring programmes, perhaps particularly to those of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows that face time limitations.
  • How will COVID-19 impact progress towards the SDGs?

3. Capturing and learning from these effects

We, the Editorial team of Agricultural Systems, believe that it is important to capture the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural and food systems in their broadest senses. Thus, we are launching a fast-track Special Issue on existing and potential impacts of COVID-19 on agricultural and food systems, calling on our readership, which is well placed around the world, to submit manuscripts describing already-observed outcomes and impacts. The link to the full call follows. We hope this will improve our collective understanding of the many short and long term challenges posed by COVID-19 by broad contributions from the agricultural systems research community. Articles in this Special Issue will be profiled under Elsevier's (2020) COVID-19 response.

Call for submissions link: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/agricultural-systems/call-for-papers/immediate-impacts-of-covid-19-on-agricultural-and-food-syste

References

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Stepan Completes Acquisition of Surfactant Business and Sulfate Production Equipment in Mexico from Clariant Clariant and Eastman announce agrochemical collaboration

2020 has proven to be a very challenging year. COVID-19 has changed the way we live and fundamentally affected the global economy. The impact that the pandemic has had on agriculture, specifically the international trade of seed, is still to be determined. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has called for the agriculture sector to be classified as essential in all countries to ensure the continued production and movement of seed1.

Today’s AGRO market is more competitive than ever with AGRO companies, seed treaters and farmers alike looking for better options to some of the challenges they face around identification, value, safety, branding and inventory. This is where superior color solutions come into the picture.

“Even outside of these challenging times, seeds are an expensive component for a farmer, they continue to increase in value year-after-year. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency mandates that all seeds treated with a biological or chemical pesticide be color treated as an identification tool. Why not make color work for you?” asks Mark Self, market segment manager for Special Applications, Business Unit Pigments North America at Clariant.

Clariant’s Agrocer colorants offer the superior solutions that the market is currently looking for, addressing questions and concerns around safety, usability and customization.

Germination and Safety

Key concerns to the seed treatment industry include the potential impact that seed colorants have on plant germination and growth, as well as potential dust exposure from treated seed to humans and beneficial insects during storage, transport, handling and planting. Agrocer color products go through rigorous testing across multiple plant species and numerous combinations of polymers, colorants, and active ingredients representing a wide range of typical seed treatments to simulate ‘real life’. With their extensive testing, Agrocer colorants are designed to take into account the key concerns of the seed treatment industry.

Usability and Customization

Previously, the basic range for seed colorants consisted of red, blue, green and violet. With EPA approval of Clariant’s Agrocer pigments Yellow 1 and Red 112, virtually any shade is possible. “These two pigments complete the color palette, allowing customers to design their seed products with the safeguard of knowing they are compliant, safe, reliable, and can be marketed internationally,” says Self. Available in liquid, granular and powdered options, in any package size required, the different handling forms provide flexibility and compliment any level of expertise or technical capacity at a customer site. Agrocer products are also formulated with a high pigment load, meaning that weight for weight they can cost less than traditional colorants.

Taking Color Applications a Step Further

Agrocer can help grow brand recognition for seed products with specific colors, making seeds recognizable and, more importantly, distinguishable. “Companies can use color in their marketing, creating additional value by utilizing a specific color to identify and brand their seeds. Safety and VALUE can be associated with the ability to identify a seed treatment at a glance. Users will know right away that the product has the traits they want. Seed coloration, once an afterthought, is now an important tool used alongside packaging and marketing materials as a branding opportunity,” Self concludes.

The full impact of 2020 is still unknown for the globalized seed industry. What is clear, is that seeds play a fundamental role in our food systems and Clariant’s Agrocer colorants offer the next generation of products for successful coating and planting results, helping to contribute to food security.

Iran, India to discuss agricultural co-op in an online meeting −− Iran and India are supposed to discuss cooperation in the field of agriculture in an online meeting on October 13.

The meeting will be participated by a number of officials from both sides, including Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Head Masoud Khansari, Indian Ambassador to Tehran Gaddam Dharmendra, and a representative from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture.

Economic and political relations between Iran and India date back to centuries ago and the two countries have kept their ties throughout many turbulences and ups and downs. India is the only foreign country that is currently participating in a major development project in Iran despite the U.S. sanctions. The Chabahar Port development project, in southeastern Iran, is the anchor for the expansion of economic relations between the two nations.

In an interview conducted by the Tehran Times at the place of the daily in mid-July, Indian Ambassador to Tehran Gaddam Dharmendra said, “Iran is a very import trade partner for us, and this year, especially, is more significant since it marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the two countries' political relations which was started after the signing of a treaty between the two sides.” “Iran and India’s relationship is not something new, it is very robust and goes back to centuries. We have a very strong foundation to build upon and that is how the two sides’ leaders are stressing the need for expanding relationships in all areas”, the Indian envoy reiterated. “We are also neighbors, we are maritime neighbors, and now with Chabahar port as the anchor of the two countries' trade relations, we have become maritime partners as well”, he added. Prime Minister Modi and President Rouhani have met four times this year and that is the indication of how important the relations are for both sides, Dharmendra said. “As you see, our economic relations continue despite all the limitations and challenges”, the ambassador underlined. India was the first country that put in place a banking mechanism to be able to trade with Iran in national currencies, he said, adding this rupee-rial channel is being facilitated by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). It has helped the traders in both countries for the exchange of commodities.

IRRI (International Rice Research Institute)

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Top officials of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) led by its Vice Minister, Le Quoc Doanh, discussed the future directions of the research collaboration between MARD and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in a virtual meeting on 18 September 2020. Dr. Doanh acknowledged the fruitful 60-year partnership between IRRI and Vietnam, specifically on sharing rice varieties, providing capacity building, and expanding support to climate change and resource management.

IRRI was represented by Jim Godfrey, IRRI Board of Trustees (BOT) chair, Matthew Morell, IRRI Director General, former MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat and current member of the IRRI Board, and Dr. Yurdi Yasmi and Dr. Bjoern Ole Sander, the institute’s regional representative for Southeast Asia and country representative to Vietnam, respectively.

“I expressed my gratitude to Vietnam’s strong support for and collaboration with IRRI that has contributed significantly to the development of the rice sector in the country,” said Dr. Godfrey who acknowledged the importance of the relationship between the two during the meeting that discussed the One CGIAR reform. “I look forward to the same level of commitment under the new CGIAR platform.”

One CGIAR, which starts on 1 October 2020, will place the 15 CGIAR Centers under one governance to enable its partnerships, knowledge, assets, and global presence to reach greater integration and impact in the face of the interdependent challenges facing today’s world.

“CGIAR is concerned with developing an agriculture system that enhances farmers’ livelihoods and adapts to and mitigates the impact of climate change,” said Dr. Morell. He stressed that under One CGIAR, CGIAR centers working in Vietnam will be an integrated system for collaboration and resource sharing to address climate-related risks such as salinity intrusion and drought. IRRI has asked MARD to make Vietnam’s position clear on the One CGIAR process in terms of its commitments and the support. In response, Dr. Doanh made a commitment on behalf of MARD to give full support to One CGIAR and inform the CGIAR System Council about IRRI’s important work in Vietnam. Dr. Morell also encouraged MARD to harness regional platforms such as the Council for Partnership on Rice Research in Asia (CORRA) and the ASEAN RiceNet for sharing knowledge and technologies for the improvement of the region’s rice sector. The Vice Minister supported the idea of actively participating in CORRA by promoting and sharing Vietnam’s successful programs.

Finally, Dr. Morell asked MARD to work with IRRI in securing multilateral projects to continue future cooperation and invited Vietnam to engage in South-South cooperation, especially with African countries, on rice sector development.

Dr. Phat expressed support for South-South collaborations with IRRI and shared Vietnam’s previous activities to help the African rice sector. Representatives from attached agencies under MARD presented a more specific research agenda to IRRI. Dr. Nguyen Quang Tin of the Department of Science, Technology and Environment proposed priority areas of collaborative research, such as rice variety development, soil management, and postharvest technologies. Dr. Pham Ngoc Thach of the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute discussed pressing research concerns for the Mekong River Delta and requested IRRI to expand its human resource development and capacity building activities; exchange varieties and genetic resources with improved quality, climate change resilience; improve nutrition and strengthen rice value chains; address sedimentation; reassess technologies and practices and share them to farmers; and form working groups to implement these activities.

CGIAR is a global partnership of 15 organizations conducting research for a food-secure future. Recently, One CGIAR was announced aiming for greater integration and impact in the face of the interdependent challenges facing today’s world. Other organizations under CGIAR include Africa Rice Center, Center for International Forestry Research, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, International Food Policy Research Institute, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, International Livestock Research Institute, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, International Potato Center, International Water Management Institute, The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, World Agroforestry, and WorldFish. These organizations will continue to work together to address food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation and improvement of quality of life, gender equality and social inclusion, climate change, and environment and biodiversity.

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