ECUADOR - Agriculture
General Manager, GPS Group
Patricio Salazar Benítez has been President of GPS Group since 2014 and is mostly active in innovation and sustainability solutions for the agro-industrial sector. Before that, he served as Ecuador’s regional commercial ambassador for South America and the Caribbean and as Director of Business Development and Foreign Investment at the Ministry of Commerce. He started his career at LAN Airlines and later acted as its Regional Sales Director. He holds a degree in economics from Escuela Superior Politécnica del Literol and an MBA from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
We started in the agro-industrial sector mainly with coffee factory companies and cocoa export companies. Thereafter, we worked in the agribusiness with an important group from Quito that has a large grape and avocado plantation. Around two years ago, we entered the aquaculture business to solve its problems, and we have since grown from one client to around 40 at present. Aquamar, our only client at that time, was the only company that used electricity instead of diesel in shrimp farming. Aquamar’s problem was high electricity prices, and after conducting technical studies, we learned that the equilibrium price for electricity should be less than USD0.07 per kWh. Electricity price was more than double of that, so we started working closely with the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA), and one year later the government agreed to have a standard policy and a new price for both agriculture and aquaculture sector. We invited other important companies to have an integrated solution. At present, it has become the priority of the government. We have been able to knock on the doors of leading companies and earn their trust, and as a result, the government views us as its representative.
We face the same problems in the banana and shrimp industries. Once companies switch from diesel to electricity, they can combine three main achievements. First, they are more efficient because of the new technology, which also makes them more competitive. Second, the government is able to sell energy that it previously could not. Third, since diesel is an imported good, it reduces Ecuador’s import bill. Our mission as a company is to focus on sustainable development; that is our essence. It is vital to have an impact in terms of climate change.
The reception has been great, and it has become a trend. The leading companies are followed by medium-sized companies, which will then be followed by smaller companies. It is important to have promotion and communication of the project, because in order to be inclusive in the use of electricity, we need resources. The limitation is financial, which is why it is important to have international financial partners who share our mission in terms of environmental impact as well as social impact. We also see huge potential in Ecuador’s mining sector, and moving forward, we want to develop a synergy between the bananas, shrimp, and mining industries.
We have potential to grow in not only aquaculture, agriculture, and mining, but also in the manufacturing sector. The project of electrification will have another impact on the supply chain. If all primary producers switch to electricity, they will be able to increase their production capacities. That will impact both sides, as both downstream feeding industry and the packing industry will need to grow. All this new capacity will open many opportunities for the industrial sector in general. At the same time, the government will have more opportunities to offer electricity.
All Ecuador has ever needed is confidence, and now, there is a government with a pragmatic vision. The key to attracting new investment is having strong regulations in terms of attracting investors. The new law has done this, and it will have an important impact. It is key to integrate the needs of the private sector, the government, and the globe. Through such efforts, the private sector will win in competitiveness, the government will benefit in terms of revenue, and the pressure on the environment will reduce significantly. At GPS, our passion is sustainable development, and we measure our success by analyzing our impact on the environment.
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