"Mexican agriculture is devoted to high-value crops, our exact market niche. Additionally, sustainability is critical to businesses today."
Can you provide us with an introduction to Acadian Plant Health?
Acadian Plant Health is over 38 years old and is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with commercial operations in 62 different countries. Here in Mexico, we have a solid, extremely well-trained team with a deep understanding of sustainability. It is essential for us to be present in the field and ensure the correct usage of the products.
How do your products help plants produce better crops?
Our product is based on a seaweed called Ascophyllum nodosum, naturally grown in Nova Scotia Canada shore, the world's best-known seaweed that offers the greatest benefits and uses. This technology provides benefits to improve the biostimulation of the plants, improving the crop's ability to resist stress. Crops are stressed by everything, including wind, temperature, dust, pests, diseases, weeds, etc. Therefore, for a crop to express the maximum potential, every element of the agricultural process needs to be done correctly – fertilization, irrigation, pest control, and stress control.
We focus on reducing plant stress. In particular, our products enable plants to maximize their absorption of the nutrients and resources around them to resist low or high temperature, as well as water & salinity stress better. Our products activate key genes, improving the plant's ability to react to and resist stressors. For example, our products can tell a plant's stomata to close or open based on the amount of water available, or signal to the plant to speed foliage production level in response to a loss of foliage due to hail or other issues.
A market that is booming is agave. Agave is currently in a great position; we believe it will last for another six or seven years, and then the market for agave will steady. So, these are great markets for us right now. Regarding product trends, growers will continue using traditional fertilizers for the foreseeable future. Still, more and more, we are seeing a growth in liquid fertilizers, which are more useful and efficient.
What is your greatest challenge?
Our major challenge is the cost of fertilizers, which has skyrocketed recently due to macroeconomic issues. Growers tend to prioritize fertilizers over other products. After fertilizers, they prioritize agrochemicals, and everything related to pest, weeds & diseases control. It is only after they have purchased those that they invest in bio-stimulants. There is a misconception that biostimulant products are extras rather than critical contributors to crop health. Even when the farmers know that the results are excellent and will improve harvests, they decide to cut back on biostimulants when fertilizer costs are high. Therefore, the fertilizer costs caused by the Ukraine war are a real challenge for us as the Mexican market invests a higher share of its money in fertilizers at the expense of biostimulants.
How will you meet growing demand?
We harvest our Ascophillum manually to maintain the seaweed beds, as machine-harvesting damages the seaweed. The availability of seaweed compared to demand is a significant challenge because the areas where the Ascophillum is grown are very limited—primarily in Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. These are the only areas on the world where Ascophillum is naturally grown due to climate conditions.
This does put pressure on our growth. However, we are continually improving our technology and innovating to make more products utilizing the same Ascophillum. We prioritize improving the performance and additional benefits for the growers. Over the next few years, we look forward to bringing new products to the market.
What makes you optimistic about your growth trajectory?
As a country, Mexico is the most important market after the United States for Acadian's operations worldwide, even more significant than Brazil. Mexican agriculture is devoted to high-value crops, our exact market niche. Additionally, sustainability is critical to businesses today. They are consistently looking for safe products that do not have residue problems, and our product is entirely organic. The focus on sustainability positions us to take advantage of the current demand for biological products. We firmly believe this is a great time to continue improving the position of Acadian Plant Health. On a scientific level, we will continue innovating and improving crops' abilities to handle stress.