Interview with Rubik Sommerhalder, Global Head of Marketing at Lonza Specialty Ingredients Crop Protection.
What are the biggest challenges in your industry?
Agriculture faces many challenges and often these are of regional difference.
Among the most important challenges I would mention the following:
a) Tighter regulations and shrinking number of plant biotechnology and crop protection tools available to the farmers to meet the growing demand for quality agricultural products and resources
b) Climate change
c) Inspiring young people to stay in rural areas and become future farmers
d) Counterfeited crop protection products
Additional challenges for producers and distributors come from the tracking of the product in the value chain and knowing when the product is applied.
Farmers on the other hand often need to monitor expiry dates, withholding periods etc.
Having a digital tool to access the above information is important for producers as it allows to optimize production, minimize waste and contribute to a sustainable agriculture; for farmers it is important as it makes their life easier and minimizes waste and financial losses.
What are the financial losses in your industry due to these problems?
The financial losses in agriculture coming from the challenges above are difficult to quantify but are surely in the billion USD range. If we take counterfeited products as an example, it is estimated that 10-15% of the global crop protection products are illegal products. Considering that the global pesticide market is valued at over USD 60 billion this mounts to something between 6-10 billion US dollars.
What are the benefits for Lonza of working with Authena?
In working with Authena we are getting access to a technology, which is at the forefront with regards to product transparency and traceability across the entire supply chain. This allows us to address many of the mentioned challenges.
We see great value in this collaboration as we are conducting pioneer work and Authena has the ability and vision to see the opportunities, which are to come in the future. Authena’s capability to quickly understand and adapt to company and market needs are of great advantage to us.
What potential do you see in Authena’s solution for Lonza? For the industry?
The potential is huge as the industry is in need of a harmonized solution for traceability. Authena’s solution offers an easy to implement, cost effective solution and can be integrated in a number of IT platforms bringing value to the producers, distributor and consumers. We strongly believe this technology could play a significant role in the farm to fork approach in agriculture in the future.
Further this tool can improve public confidence in agrochemicals as enhanced transparency will allow consumers to know where products come from and that they were managed correctly.
Lastly Authena’s technology has the potential to contribute to the digitalization of agriculture making this sector even more interesting for the younger generations.
Why did you decide to work with Authena?
Authena has a vision and the technical and human capabilities to rapidly grasp and adapt to the market needs. For us it was very important to have a strong technical partner with strong values and that addresses not only the what, but also the why and the how.
How did the integration of Authena’s solution into your system work and what makes Authena stand out in this respect?
For us it was very easy to integrate Authena’s solution onto our products and into our system as Authena offers an easy to use hardware and back-end solution, which are very user friendly. The flexibility of their solution offers us the opportunity to use a modular approach and to add touchpoints with different IT platforms down the road.
What are the biggest challenges in establishing the Authena solution?
The biggest challenges are to be able to harmonize the transparency and traceability solution on a global level and to motivate producers and distributors to take the leap of faith and adopt this new technology as we are entering a new phase of innovation for agriculture.
For which industries and companies would you recommend Authena?
I see a number of industries and applications, which could benefit from Authenas technology. COVID is a current hot topic for example. The pharmaceutical industry could most probably benefit from product traceability and the policymakers could use this technology to guarantee secure vaccination passports. Other industries, which could profit are industries that require a degree of product traceability for tax and or quality purposes such as the fruit, wine, tobacco and cannabis industry.