BIOCONTROLS AFRICA, July 12-13 in Cape Town, marks our first event focused solely on biopesticide and biostimulant products. Our first year rebranded AgriBusiness Global gave us an opportunity to immerse ourselves into different segments and identify the opportunities that might help agribusinesses generate more revenue and help farmers boost productivity at a time when farm incomes are critically important to global GDP.
After more than 50,000 miles of travel on three continents, here are a few things we’ve observed and just a few of the reasons we are launching a commercially-focused tradeshow and conference in South Africa this year.
- There is practically untapped market potential for biological products. At about $1.8 billion in global market value, the biological pesticide segment is about 2.5% of the global plant protection industry. And there are serious doubts as to whether they are even that high. Manufacturer-to-manufacturer sales, such as is the case with some licensing and distribution deals, might be counted twice depending on the method of measurement. The same is true for biostimulant products. A global value of about $1.5 billion means that plant health is less than 1% of global plant health market.
- Despite their relatively low adoption and value, investment into these sectors has never been higher. The 11 top biopesticide companies, many of which work in traditional chemical crop protection as well, spent about 7.3% of their R&D budgets on biological control development, according to recent data from Phillips McDougall. By 2019, biocontrol R&D is expected to constitute 9.2% of R&D budgets despite the segment’s total market share projected to be far less than that. That investment is great news for segment as major R&D companies prioritize spending for new research, development, and delivery of novel technologies.
- Biostimulants are one of the fastest growing segments in terms of global sales, and several market factors will perpetuate their continued adoption. First comes consumer demand for organic agriculture. Western societies now enjoy the choice that comes with various production systems, and biostimulants ensure plant health without synthetic fertilizers. Moreover, healthy plants require less crop protection. Seemingly each day new research is uncovering our understanding of the microbiome and the interplay of bacteria in the soil and root structure that then affects the plant’s ability to thrive. Corporate research is working closely with academia to document these findings, and the level of investment into R&D among the segment’s leaders is helping growers to understand and adopt these new technologies.
- Key markets drive this business. South Africa, with its seven climatic zones, year-round growing seasons, and diversity of crops grown — including citrus, grapes, deciduous fruits, tree nuts, sugarcane, and cut flower — align with specialty agriculture’s quest for more sustainable inputs and the public’s scrutiny of production systems. California, Mexico, Turkey, and other key markets along with South Africa will be the hubs for the evolution and modernization of agriculture inputs.
The biological segments now excel in R&D to fortify their reputation and prove product efficacy of serious manufacturers. But where they fall short is commercial proxy, which is why we’ve developed Biocontrols Africa 2017 to be a conduit for commercial distribution for the entire value chain, from manufacturer to distributor, agent, and grower. Learn more and sign up for updates.