SUSTAINABLE FARMING

Ecuador 2019 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

Nutreco's new plant, designed to include the latest available technologies, is set to go into production in 1Q2019, boosting its production capacity.

Carlos Miranda
BIOGRAPHY
Carlos Miranda is General Manager of Skretting, the feed division of multinational Nutreco. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and coordinated investments in a new production facility with state-of-the art technology for shrimp feed in Ecuador. He holds a degree from Stonehill College in Massachusetts, US.

How has construction of your new manufacturing plant for shrimp feed advanced, and how will the plant complement your current production capacity?

We currently run three factories in Ecuador that are in great shape, though they are not up to date. When Nutreco acquired the Expalsa feed business in Ecuador in May 2013, it decided to build a new production facility in Ecuador. Our new plant is designed according to the latest available technologies and is set to go into production in 1Q2019. There are new regulations for the construction sector, and to comply with the latest building code, we are slightly behind schedule, though we have a more sturdy and secure building.

What innovations have you applied in Ecuador, and what part of the research is done locally?

Under Nutreco, we have shrimp feed operations in Vietnam, China, Brazil, Honduras, Peru, and Ecuador, and we are building one in India. The Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre (ARC) headquartered in Stavanger, Norway, is working on shrimp nutrition, health, precision farming, and optimal procession. When Nutreco entered the shrimp market, it was already active in feed for livestock and many aquaculture species. Nutreco, then, decided to validate all the nutritional requirements of shrimp. Following the outcomes of that research, we developed Optiline diet and later our health diet under the brand name Lorica. Another project on our R&D agenda are feeding models. Our feeding model at Skretting called AquaSlim employs artificial intelligence, allowing us to plan feeding by the hour and according to the environmental circumstances of the pond. That is a large innovation project that we are implementing under the brand name Skretting 360+. Skretting is the first company to truly pay attention to automatic feeding and invest in automatic feeding. The world needs to produce more with less in order to feed all the people. That is what we managed to do with Skretting 360+, providing a total solution to our customer. Our goal is to make our farmers the most efficient in the world.

What makes Ecuador such a successful country in the shrimp farming industry?

The first farm that was built in Ecuador in the 1960s still functions today; we are talking about more than 50 years of farming done in the same ponds. In addition, shrimp is native to this region; the shrimp cultivated all over the world originates from Ecuador. Another differentiator is Ecuador taking a different route genetically speaking. In Ecuador and in most parts of the Americas, we work with SPRs, which means they are pathogen-resistant animals, as opposed to pathogen-free animals. Ecuadorian farmers do not disinfect the water with chlorine, as is the case in Asia. Here, the animals grow in a natural environment and are able to survive what nature presents to them. Also, the density of our country plays a role; it is much lower than in Asia. The lower density models have proven over time to be more sustainable. The Ecuador model has a huge potential to be optimized, though without reaching the densities of Asia. When we say we can double production, we are still talking about less than half of what is produced in Asia per hectare, though in a more sustainable way. We are the regional provider and supply Peru and Central America from here.

How have you incorporated environmental sustainability into your corporate philosophy?

Within the feed industry, Nutreco is one of the first companies in the world to have a clear sustainability policy. We also measure our impact, which is in turn verified by a third party. For shrimp feed production, this applies to all parts of the production process, from raw material sourcing to CO2 emissions. In our business, sustainability is a license to operate and not merely superfluous. At Nutreco, our sustainability agenda is guided by the Nutera program, which has its own C-level director. All our sustainability efforts are audited and reported annually to our stakeholders.