MUCH MORE TO GIVE

Mexico 2018 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Thomas Hultin, Country Manager of Yara, on securing long-term customer loyalty, giving customers tangible evidence for solutions, and boosting maize production.

 Thomas Hultin

What is the importance of the Mexican domestic market for your global production and sales strategy?

Yara Mexico belongs to one of the company's several business units, which is Latin America, and Mexico represents 30% of the region. Our local target for 2018 is to sell 700,000 tons. We have been in Mexico for 15 years and a target of 700,000 tons shows that the market truly appreciates the solutions we sell. We had an excellent 2017, and thus far 2018 has been doing just as well. Customers want more solutions from Yara, and we are constantly growing. In order to grow, we have several strategies, all of which go back to the core of our focus, which is always the end user or the farmer. What we deliver will be measured. If we perform better than the competition, customers will be loyal and will tell their friends and family about our solutions. This is why we are literally growing by the day.

What are your priorities in terms of R&D and your strategy to transfer your innovations to farmers?

All our R&D is aimed at helping our customers and agriculture by boosting productivity. We have a great global presence and are in many different crops, climates, and geographies around the world. Our R&D department is a reflection of this and uses a variety of techniques. In the end, there is always an alternative to our product: we have competition left and right. The alternative is to test something else, though our customers have always been loyal. In terms of our transfer strategy, we conduct many trials and compare the solutions we provide and the fertilizer being used by farmers in the villages. We test both fertilizers and after six weeks judge the difference between the crops. That is how we create tangible evidence for our customers

What are the main challenges faced by Mexican farmers?

This is a huge country with total arable land of 21 million ha. Of the 15 million that are fertilized, only 10 million ha are done correctly. The remaining 5 million ha are a business opportunity. There are 5 million farmers in the country, and the majority of them inherited their land and their way of cultivating and managing the field. When we come and present a solution as opposed to a product is when we make a difference, because our solution can increase yields by 20%. We engage with our customers and they come back and thank us. This goes beyond profits; we are making a difference in the country and are more environmentally friendly. With a Yara solution, nitrogen losses are extremely small

How are you contributing to raising productivity and improving food security in the country, especially in the case of corn?

We have touched the subject in many different ways. When we analyzed the statistics, we realized Mexico is completely dependent on the US for corn. Mexico could be self-sufficient if it had the productivity. That is where Yara comes in with a solution that goes beyond a product specification. It is not just about nutrients but how one works in the field. We are working to increase productivity and are making an impact on the environment

How would you assess the overall competitiveness of Mexican farmers?

This region is huge and certain countries are more developed in terms of management in the field. As there are so many different climate zones, we can grow crops from all over the world here, but El Niño and other weather conditions must be taken into account. Mexico has much more to give, especially in terms of productivity.

Which products have the biggest potential for growth?

Maize still has the biggest potential.