BASF Agro highlights Latin American growth potential as global food bowl

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BASF Agro highlights Latin American growth potential as global food bowl

Global agricultural production will need to grow by 60% by 2050 if it is to meet the food demands of an expected population of nine billion. There is a shortage of farmland across the globe but some countries have more space available. At we speak with Latin American representatives of U.S. crop protection company BASF Agro to discuss ways to confront this international food crisis.

BASF Agro director of sustainable development in Latin America Silvia Bechara, says the challenge for the industry is to both raise production and meet tightening controls around pesticide residues.

"Today the planted area on the planet could not feed nine billion people. We would need three planets to feed them with the current dietary parameters," she says.

She highlights Europe has become the top food importing continent with a cultivation deficit close to the size of Germany, yet at the same time it was introducing more restrictions on the ability of growers to supply it.

"Europe has a strong policy against the use of pesticides and has made strong political decisions in restricting the use and volumes of chemical substances in general."

BASF Agro marketing manager for Chile and Peru Santiago Farinati, says this raises the additional challenge to produce chemicals that degrade quicker. He adds the company is any taking products with a "very long" degradation curve out of its portfolio.

In Chile, the company has a research and development platform focused on fruit and vegetables, with programs Grapes Without Borders and Pome Fruit Without Borders to provide an integral service to growers that both increases productivity and keeps residues within the standard levels required by importers.

"We are part of the food production chain and that's why we have to solve problems to produce more and improve quality. Our mission is much broader than just selling chemicals," says Farinati.

Around the world there are some areas without enough cultivable land and others with opportunity to grow in new agricultural zones; for BASF, Latin America is a perfect example of the latter.

Bechara says the region can become one of the world's "main food pantries", looking strongly to Europe and Asia, "conquering markets that a few years ago were unthinkable".

"[Chile] has had enough maturity to understand the market opportunity and has been able to capture it responsibly."

"Latin America should look to Latin America as an example of a country that has grown as an exporting country in the face of tremendously restrictive situations."

Farinati adds that Peru has great opportunities to help alleviate the global food crisis.

"It has the biggest growth opportunity in Latin America as it is one of the few countries that has the potential to grow in terms of surface area," he says.

"It has water, it has land," he says.

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