In Brazil digital agriculture still longs for connectivity

Gustavo Schaper, Head of Operations at Syngenta Digital introduces the technology market focused on agriculture.

With technology developments, a global action has been seen in agribusiness, called agriculture 4.0. It is a massive investment on technological solutions, aiming to reduce costs, help the farmer on decision making, who can count on efficient information to use resources rationally and retrieve his investments in a short term.

Immersed in this context, AgriBrasilis interviewed Gustavo Schaper, Head of Operations at Syngenta Digital. Gustavo Schaper is a production engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and postgraduate at Lausanne Université in strategic business market.


AgriBrasilis – What are the challenges of the modern agriculture in Brazil considering the difference between small companies in the startup model focused on technology development and investments in R&D carried out by global companies such as Syngenta?

Gustavo SchaperThe consumer’s market demand has brought new outlines for modern agriculture, which now ask for a more diligent eye, capable of running an unimaginable number of variables.

Traceability and transparency of the food supply chain, as well as the increase in sustainability care and conscious use of resources are a few examples. Adding to that the high volatility of markets and the exchange rate, and the pandemic context, we have a scenario of great challenges to produce food in Brazil.

This whole new context comes year after year, increasing the ecosystem of startups focused on the agro industry. Likewise, the sector’s multinationals are increasingly investing in the development of digital solutions. Due to the size and importance of Brazilian agribusiness, both global companies and startups have their role in digital transformations.

A good example is found here inside the house. We started our journey as Strider, an agtech that, at first, was acquired by Syngenta. In June last year, as part of a global movement, Syngenta Digital Brasil was launched, uniting the startup’s agility in an innovative way with the capillarity and strength of a digital multinational.

This point is very important, because on one hand startups are able to test and find new solutions with incredible agility, global agro companies that have the capacity to operate in disperse areas of a continental country and the need to coordinate several techniques / products to solve real problems of the producer.

Once again, the example of Syngenta Digital is valid: its global product platform, Cropwise, is the living result of the synergy of solutions developed in numerous countries and which, today, have the possibility of being applied in other markets, different from those in which they were conceived. Of course, this if the application of technology makes sense in another context, since each country has its own agronomic characteristics.


AgriBrasilis – How does the lack of connection may affect developed technologies? And what has been done to deal with such reality?

Gustavo SchaperThe construction of a mature ecosystem, connecting all the links in the chain, is taking place, but it must be accelerated to increase competitiveness of the Brazilian agriculture. In this sense, we have a fundamental role in this development: coming from a startup (Strider), and now as Syngenta Digital, we understand the importance and difficulties of this connection.

Many startups have very good vertical solutions (specialists), but face the challenge of accessing the market and validating the solution on a scale. This complexity in growing is due to the size of Brazil, the distances and the low national cooperation for the use of new digital solutions.

Knowing this scenario, some regional hubs are beginning to gain strength and play an important role in this coordination, mainly by identifying the focuses and solutions that have the most adherence. Without this movement structured the producer is overwhelmed by so many small solutions, which are seeking their survival in the market, and end up choosing one or the other digital product or even postponing the trial and the beginning of the transformation journey.

Since our incorporation as Syngenta Digital, which is the result of acquisitions of startups in different regions of the world, we have this connection mindset and we are actively seeking to influence entrepreneurs to work in a more collaborative way, concatenating different technologies and expertise so that, in fact, we managed to reduce the distances between “Digitals” and increase our capacity to offer complete solutions for producers.


AgriBrasilis – What is the company’s bet on the digital agriculture landscape for the next 20 years in Brazil?

Gustavo SchaperWe always joke that 20 years in digital corresponds to 100 years in other industries, due to its great speed in transformation.

Since the Brazilian farmer has a strong entrepreneurial characteristic, we bet that Brazil will continue to be a pole of development and use in scale of digital solutions.

The acceleration of data processing capabilities; intelligent use of images and sensors; and advanced use of machine learning are topics that are likely to be more prominent in the next 20 years in Brazilian agriculture.

Even with futuristic themes such as autonomous machines and the use of robots in the field, the focus of Syngenta Digital will always be to be side by side with the producer as a technology partner to solve, together, the real problems of the day-to-day farms and move forward in evolution of the farm.