“…this equates to approximately 7 to 9 more bags of coffee per pollinated hectare, when compared to non-pollinated areas…”
Andresa Berretta is a partner and director of marketing and communication at Agrobee, as well as director of the Brazilian Association of Honey Exporters – Abemel.
Berretta is a pharmaceutical-biochemist, M.Sc and Ph.D from the University of São Paulo, and manager of research, development and innovation at Apis Flora, a manufacturer of propolis extracts, honey and derivatives.
AgriBrasilis – What does Agrobee do? How does the company select beekeepers and connect them to farmers?
Andresa Berreta – Agrobee promotes increased yields and food quality in a sustainable way through assisted and intelligent pollination services carried out by bees. Basically, we connect farmers (who have the flowers to be pollinated) with beekeepers (who have the bees to promote the service), adding expertise so that the best conditions are met so that the highest agricultural productivity is achieved.
Agrobee selects beekeepers in its database (Agrobee App), considering the ability to meet demand, training and the shortest distance to be traveled to reach the rural property, in addition to the quality score of previously provided services.
AgriBrasilis – Why is assisted pollination necessary? For which crops is it recommended?
Andresa Berreta – Agrobee develops advanced assisted pollination techniques with soybean, coffee, canola and orange as main crops. In these crops, the productivity gain with the use of AgroBee technology can exceed US$ 10,7 billion annually in Brazil.
Pollination is essential for some crops, that are dependent on pollinators, such as apples and melons, for example. However, crops that self-pollinate, such as coffee and soybeans, benefit from the bees’ service because of the genetic improvement provided by these insects, generating less abortion and deformation, and an increase in the size and quality of the fruits.
FAO data suggest that the value of pollination in the food chain could be as much as US$577 billion per year.
AgriBrasilis – What are the advantages of this service to farmers and how much revenue can it add?
Andresa Berreta – The farmer gains from the increase in the productivity of his crop. In the case of coffee, for example, productivity increases reach between 17% and 19% (there is a little variation according to the harvest). This equates to approximately 7 to 9 more bags of coffee per pollinated hectare, when compared to non-pollinated areas, with an investment of 1 bag. This is economic sustainability.
Pollination allows us to harvest more without deforesting, without consuming more water, fertilizers, agrochemicals, etc. This is environmental sustainability.
Furthermore, when the farmer hires Agrobee’s services, he generates extra income for the beekeepers, who fill out a beekeeping calendar, generating income at times when the beekeepers would need to feed their bees.
AgriBrasilis – What factors guarantee a more efficient pollination? What are the quality criteria and what bee species are used?
Andresa Berreta – Several factors are involved in carrying out the process so that the service offers the desired results, from the pollination deficit of the property, water sources, selection of species and adequate quantities for focus crops, to the quality of swarms for carrying out of pollination. Therefore, for the service to give results, it is necessary that this work is carried out by professionals.
AgriBrasilis – AgroBee recently received investments from Koppert. What is the synergy of the activities of these companies? What is the direction of this amount?
Andresa Berreta – Agrobee and Koppert carry out their activities through the use of living organisms to promote sustainable agribusiness. The first uses bees to promote more efficient pollination, while the second uses living organisms to control pests. This “marriage” has everything to work out very well, since they are initiatives that complement each other.