Pan-American Forum on Bioinputs

Published at: 09 January 2024

FONTAGRO, IICA, EU, IDB, FAO, and AGRO INNOVA organized in Panama the first Pan-American Forum on Bioinputs to discuss the perspectives and opportunities of bioinputs as a strategic technology for the transformation of agriculture

Panama May 26th, 2023. The first "Pan-American Bioinputs Forum: perspectives and opportunities" was held in Panama with the objective of generating a space for international discussion where different actors met to strengthen multilateralism and integrative regional cooperation to debate the challenges and opportunities presented by this more sustainable and economical technological alternative for agri-food systems. The meeting was organized by FONTAGRO, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Adapted Agroforestry Systems project for the Central American Dry Corridor (AGRO INNOVA, financed by the European Union).

The use of bioinputs in agriculture has gained great importance in recent years due to its ability to improve the productivity and sustainability of agri-food systems. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy of the Region and the well-being of the population. However, farmers face challenges including soil degradation, declining biodiversity, and exposure to pests and diseases. In this context of climate change, problems linked to extreme environmental conditions such as high temperatures and alterations in rainfall patterns are accentuated, causing stress situations for crops and exacerbating pest and disease problems.

Despite the broad benefits of the use of bioinputs in LAC agriculture, their use is limited due to several factors, among them, the lack of knowledge and training among farmers on the proper use of these products. Furthermore, access to bioinputs is limited and their cost can be high. Also, there is a lack of regulation and quality standards for bioinputs in the region, which can generate uncertainty among farmers about the effectiveness of these products.

Arnulfo Gutiérrez, General Director of the Agricultural Innovation Institute of Panama and president of FONTAGRO, Alexis Pineda, Vice Minister of Agricultural Development of Panama, participated in the opening of the forum; Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA; Adolfo Campos, Head of the Political and Press Section of the EU Embassy in Panama; Germán Zappani, Head of Operations of the IDB Office in this country, Adoniram Sánchez, FAO Subregional Coordinator; and Gerardo Escudero, IICA Representative in Panama.

“Bioinputs are constantly growing, and this is a response to the high cost of agrochemicals and their impact on public health, the environment, the climate and the safety requirements that countries are establishing in trade,” said the vice minister. Pineda.

The inaugural keynote address was given by Mark Trimmer, co-founder and managing partner of Dunham Trimmer, a company specialized in the bioinputs market, who explained that these products are one of the fastest growing paths of the bioeconomy, in which Latin America is expected to and the Caribbean has great international prominence.

“The use of bioinputs is growing at annual rates close to 13% in biocontrollers, biostimulants and biofertilizers, far exceeding the growth rates of traditional agriculture. In biocontrol, which represents almost 60% of the total market for biological inputs, the region today represents 20% of the total market, of USD 1,231 million, being the third in importance and the one with the highest growth rates,” said Trimmer. .

He added that by 2029, Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to reach 29% of the total biocontrol market and be the region with the largest share in the global market, above the United States and Canada.

Arnulfo Gutiérrez, General Director of the Agricultural Innovation Institute of Panama and president of FONTAGRO, stated that “they consider it extremely necessary to work together in the development of new bioinput technologies as an alternative for more sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural systems. From the science, technology and innovation institutions of the region a truly crucial contribution can be made in developing technologies based on local biodiversity; Furthermore, FONTAGRO's scientific-technical innovation networks are a unique tool to advance this."

“In our region, factors such as the high price of chemical fertilizers, the interruption of the supply chain, trade tariffs and the need to have agri-food systems with lower environmental impact have driven the demand and use of bioinputs. Furthermore, the focus on health and the need to balance productivity and environmental sustainability place bioinputs as a strategic alternative,” said Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA.

Eugenia Saini, Executive Secretary of FONTAGRO, added that “at FONTAGRO we advocate collaborative work and institutional and organizational diversity, since in this way we share strengths that allow us to support Latin America and the Caribbean in a more prosperous and sustainable agriculture. This forum is the successful result of international cooperation to promote a new segment of technologies such as bioinputs, which increase productivity while reducing the impact on the environment.”

Adolfo Campos, from the EU, warned that the production of bioinputs supports organic agriculture, which allows reducing dependence on external inputs, and contributes to a more sustainable and ecological agriculture.

“During 2022, the sector experienced an escalation in fertilizer costs that affected food prices, which is why the EU seeks to strengthen capacities in the formulation and production of bioinputs, as an alternative to improve the physiological condition of crops and to have a better response to pest attacks,” he added.
The participants in the meeting agreed that the war in Ukraine has been a trigger for the increase in fertilizer prices and their shortage in the market, which is why this forum dialogue is of great relevance in the search for alternatives for the production of bioinputs. .

“As the IDB Group, we are present to participate as co-organizers of this first Pan American Bioinputs Forum, since we understand the growing importance of bioinputs in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the potential they have to offer answers to the large challenges that the agricultural sector faces at an economic, environmental and commercial level. Support for the development of bioinputs also contributes to our objectives in terms of promoting food security, one of the most pressing challenges facing the region,” said Germán Zappani, from the IDB.

Adoniram Sánchez, from FAO, highlighted at the meeting that "our objective is to contribute to the construction of agri-food systems that can satisfy the growing demand for food, without compromising the health of our planet. “This forum is an important step on that path, providing specific recommendations based on a detailed analysis of the use and investment potential of bioinputs in the region.”

The forum participants concluded that Latin America and the Caribbean has advantages to promote bioinputs as a strategic technology for the transformation of agriculture, but taking advantage of the opportunities requires efforts in the promotion of science, technology and innovation, in the generation of policies and regulations, and in the promotion of the bioinputs market to attract investments in long-term production.

With the support of
Fondo Coreano de Alianza para el Conocimiento en Tecnología e Innovación (KPK)