Agribusiness (in the broad and systemic concept to be used) still has great challenges to overcome. In a less simplistic and pragmatic way, the challenges are not only related to the economic or even financial issues of the businesses of which it is composed, to which it is linked or directly involved, but mainly to the view of those who consume the products of the system, and especially the production of the food itself. Consequently, as the urban environment, whose population is growing, perceives this cousin, who today no longer only inhabits the interior.
Three different views and perspectives
To say the importance of the sector to the economy or even to its complex system of functioning has become commonplace in Brazil for at least 30 years, if not more. Motivated mainly by the systemic professionalization in many of the chains that today Brazilian agribusiness operates, it has become an industry capable of being omnipresent in almost the entire economy of the country. So vital.
Although an agribusiness country, this was not enough to persist in the urban environment distorted visions of this geographic reality until very recently. Not that it is easy to qualify the Brazilian agribusiness profile, on the contrary. As a continental country we are, there are abysmal discrepancies between the regions and between the production chains, and therefore mainly among their players, which further contributes to this naturally dichotomous, not to say kaleidoscopic, view.
It can be said that there were at least three different opinions on agribusiness, or the field: the first group is those who did not know what is going on in the field (they do not even imagine what agribusiness is), they have no idea of the importance of this sector for the development of the country, and also how things are in the environment of origin, the countryside. It is the group that thinks that egg, chicken and other agribusiness products are produced in the industry or in the supermarket.
The second is composed of those who thought of agribusiness as "those guys from the countryside". Poor poor people, people of the grottoes, where little technology arrives, little road, and much mud and dust. Communication is done on the ticket and on horseback, and electric power is still a privilege of a few. On this in particular, it is also true that the field itself has contributed to this distorted image of itself. But it is a fallacy, although it still occurs in a few regions.
The third group is of those who still maintain a romantic view of pleasant, peaceful life, away from the tumults and tribulations of the big city. Almost without compromise, next to the nature and the consequent pure air that the people of the rural area lives. A fantasy of someone who has a leisure place for the weekend or the holidays and not a business unit where there is much work, production and transformation.
What is known at once is that any of the groups needed to better inform themselves and renew their perceptions. There are exceptions, of course, with some remnants that have survived over time, but little of what is perceived, especially in the view of the last two groups, is consistent with reality. The world of agribusiness is no longer that and changes rapidly.
How the city sees the countryside
On the other hand, much has been invested to improve the vision of agribusiness. Last year, for example, an intensive campaign was undertaken in various media and channels at the national level, not only to demonstrate the economic importance of agribusiness, but mainly to demonstrate the systemic relevance and the almost unrestricted and daily contact that the whole society Brazil has with agribusiness, even without realizing it, many times. It seems to me that this was the first time that a concatenated assault of this nature was conceived and executed in the country.
In this sense, although in a still preliminary and perhaps incipient way, given the size and the significant margins of error, at the end of last year a first major research results were presented at a large urban business fair in São Paulo (Plant Project of Bridge Research) about the perception of the field by those who live in the city.
The first impression is that the urban environment has finally awakened to our real economic matrix and the infinite potential of agriculture for the country's socioeconomic development, both in the current environment and in the medium and long term.
Starting with pride as a standard feeling. For 96% of respondents in the survey, when asked about agribusiness and the potential positioning as an internationally oriented country for the sector, this is the word that sums it all up.
The surprise about the positive view on agribusiness is justified by the degrading historical and total ignorance that generally reigned historically. On the other, it shows that the integration of the economic systems of the various sectors has been continuously consolidated and reached the common citizen.
On the other hand, it opens a new world, based on information about the connection between rural businesses and urban consumers. It is worth noting that, to a large extent, agricultural products are sent for export, something that may change, considering that consumers, according to research, manifestly know more of the agricultural than imagined. With this, marketing and communication strategies tend to be improved and rearranged.
It is true that the knowledge of agribusiness is still shallow. According to the survey, when stimulated to describe the understanding of agribusiness, only 14% of respondents included market activities as part of agribusiness, while 63% described activities related to agricultural production and productivity in general.
However, 95% and 91%, respectively, considered the sector to be important or very important for the Brazilian economy and the production of food for the world. For 89%, Brazil is the country of agribusiness, something that seems obvious to those who work in the sector or know it from the inside, but it is not so unequivocal (at least it was not until now) for the city.
Food production will be High Tech
The same research also drew another change of perception that once and for all leaves the fictitious scenario of what is still an archaic sector. More than 60% of the interviewees consider the rural production activity in Brazil as modern and innovative, while at the same time believing that state-of-the-art technology is used to improve their production processes.
The Achilles tendon of agribusiness still lies in the environmental issue. According to the data obtained, there are evident restrictions of the urban sector on the undesirable environmental impacts and the use of agricultural pesticides. Something, notably, a minor problem nowadays, but still relevant and of diurnal concern.
These data are in line with a silent shift that is occurring in much of the world, especially among people who are increasingly concerned about the impacts of their activities (some carbon footprint measures), tend to, on the one hand, pay more attention to agribusiness, understanding more and more of it; and on the other, stimulating or even creating new trends and disruptive innovations.
Some of them come firmly, such as urban farms, for example, the Food Techs (startups focused on new food production technology) and the movement called Eat Local, which stimulates the consumption of local foods, while reducing impacts the development of these communities.
A lot of things tend to change in the coming years in agribusiness and especially in food production. It pays to spend a little time on the future of food. If in 2100 the expectation is that we will have something like 11 billion inhabitants on the planet, these changes are coming soon. The future cannot wait and, by the way, it has begun.
See you next time!