The Business Year

Rafael del Rio

President (Latinoamerica Norte), Syngenta

Javier A. Montemayor

Business Representative, Stockton Group

Panama has the potential, but barriers remain before these multinationals can bring in the full range of their capacity.

What is the current status of the agro-industrial sector in Panama?

RAFAEL DEL RIO The territory Latin America North is one of the fastest-growing areas in terms of agriculture, given that it covers a vast group of countries, from Peru to Mexico. Syngenta LATAM growth will be supported by the development of this territory. Today, we are seeing the retreat of years of drought; hence, the opportunity for a fast agricultural development. The main land scape of this territory is made up of small holders who do not have the same opportunities and financial resources to acquire technology as larger producers.

JAVIER A. MONTEMAYOR Panama is a country dedicated to services. The new generation does not study or dedicate itself to agriculture. The young people of Panama see their future working in services, logistics, industry, the canal, banks, or other service-related activities. The previous governments did not invest in agriculture or agriculture education, and the country is lacking good laws and programs for the development of the sector. Panama has not developed agricultural product exportation, despite having the potential to produce rice, coffee, sugar cane, melon, and watermelon. Beef production is great, because all the cattle in the country are 100% natural, since pastures are the principal food of our cattle. Coffee is an important product for export, but it is for special varieties. The normal varieties are used for national consumption and special varieties are reserved for export.

In which specific regions are you seeing an increasing demand for new products?

RDR Mexico is the largest country in my territory of operation, and it is growing and doing well. We have high market participation. In Mexico, the greenhouse vegetables segment is growing particularly fast as it supplies the US market. In addition to this, Mexico needs to produce more as the country imports a great deal. The second-biggest country is Colombia and now that the government has signed a peace agreement, a large amount of extra land can be brought under cultivation. The government has to provide the right infrastructure: roads, ports, legal framework, and access to financial resources in order to incorporate this land into production. Cuba can be mentioned as well. If the embargo ends, there are nearly 2.5 million hectares that can be incorporated into the global market.

JAM Provinces of Azuero (central provinces) and the province of Darién. This is because there is a lot of land for development not currently used for agriculture production. The province of Chiriquí­ has better land, but its cost and value have increased, due to the development of tourism and housing. The potential for land in Boquete is incredible for agriculture, but the value at this moment is increasing because of ongoing tourism development projects. The Stockton Group always sees Panama as being a major logistics hub, not only for Latin America but the world. For three years, Stockton developed a logistics company for Latin America in three steps. We have a warehouse in the Colón Free Zone where we label and dispatch our products to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, and all of Latin America. Stockton is also developing a new project focused on aquaculture. In Panama, this project is dedicated to the production of organic products for the reduction of diseases in shrimp and the cultivation of fish. Stockton has a solid team of developers and scientific researchers.

What are the main targets and ambitions Syngenta has set for 2017?

RDR Our vision is to continue growing in a profitable way. Our main target is to achieve our ambitions under our Good Growth Plan, as it is really what makes us proud of our work and our company. The Good Growth Plan is related to how we bring about sustainable agriculture. The population is growing fast and there is no more land. We have the means and need to speed up the introduction of technology in order to feed the world. This is really the most important goal for us—to act fast and in a way that is sustainable. Syngenta is an activator that boosts the performance of the agricultural sector in different economies in the territory.



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