Barn Investment’s Founder, Flavio Zaclis will be joining us as a ‘Shark Panelist’ at the World Agri-Tech South America later this month. Three transformative start-ups in Digitization will present their solutions to the ‘Shark Panelists’ and you the audience. As a ‘Shark Panelist’, Flavio will ask questions to the innovators to learn more about their technology and its potential. We spoke to Flavio to find out more:

How are the region’s start-ups disrupting South America crop and livestock production?

Through the use of technology South America’s start-ups are creating great value for farmers by reducing distances, increasing yields, and improving overall farm and production management. The massive use of  technology in agriculture and livestock will allow for much better yields and productivity, but it is also the main gateway to collecting valuable info and data that will be used improve the industry’s overall performance, transparency, and sustainability.

What should international investors and corporates be looking for in a South American start-up partner or investment?

Start-ups need a combination of a (i) sizeable market, (ii)  great product, and (iii) excellent team. These are key factors in evaluating the quality of a start-up. For South America there is an additional challenge which is related to distribution; distribution of products, especially tech products, is still very challenging and the start-ups that have been able to “crack the distribution code” should have advantages towards those who haven’t. I also think it is extremely relevant to understand if this Company product can serve the farmer and/or producer in a complete way, meaning that the start-ups product should also serve as a platform that integrates data coming from other sources, and start-ups so that users can see the greater picture of what is going on in their farms. It is also important for international investors to understand how big and  heterogenous the region is in terms of infrastructure, distribution and access to credit. I would say that basically international investors need to find a Company that has created an incredible product, that can be improved and can work with external data….but, also take into consideration if that product is marketable, where, and how…and what are the economics for this to work.

How has Covid-19 changed the region’s agtech start-up scene? Has it created new opportunities for agile innovators?

I think Covid-19 has shown, once again, how powerful South America is when it comes to the ag sector. Again and again in Brazil the ag sector has been the major force pushing GDP, and the current pandemic comes to show how important the region is for global food production and how valuable start-ups in this region could become. It seems like the interest for ag and agtech in general has significantly increased in the last few months as the pandemic made it clear, once again, of how competitive South America is in this market. I believe the start-up scene will see in a huge spike in interest in the next few years.

What is the importance of data in the ag sector and how does it play a key role looking forward? 

For me data is the single most valuable asset for ag start-ups. The lack of data on a micro level (meaning data gathered real time plot by plot within a farm) is the single largest problem for many of the old, and well known bottlenecks of the  industry. Start-ups that are able to collect a lot of data and then use that data to compare, measure and project future outcomes, will be the real winners in the sector. The Latin American ag sector will become even more relevant and powerful when we are able to collect data from the field on a micro, detailed level to be shared with the major entities that are part of the sector. With reliable data (i) production costs should significantly decrease, (ii) access to credit and insurance at competitive rates will grow tremendously, creating a safer and more reliable business environment , and (iii) waste and chemical usage will be reduced, resulting in higher yields and more planet friendly production, and finally (iv) consumers will have more transparency and knowledge about what they are consuming, being able to choose what kind of products and producers to by from.

Meet the start-ups at the summit and join us to see them present live!

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