Feature Interview – Agtech Solutions with IST Group- Aqua4D
We interviewed José Tomás Gillet, Commercial Manager at IST Group- Aqua4D Technology in Chile and Peru. Jose told us about the potential of their innovative technology which solve salinity problems and prevents obstructions due to biofilms and minerals in irrigation systems.
Ax Legal: What are some of the water problems facing Chile?
José Tomás: Mainly the quantity and quality of the water, which creates issues with salinity, obstruction due to biofilms and minerals in the irrigation systems, and in general, poor performance. Previously in Chile, there were shortages only in some regions of the country; today unfortunately there are shortages in the majority of the Regions.
Industries such as agriculture today are reducing the hectares planted due to the lack of water and quality. Likewise, the real estate industry is affected by pipe ruptures due to the amount of salinity in the water. Therefore, it is significant again to highlight that the key is to have a technology that allows them to be efficient in both problems.
Ax Legal: How is the Chilean agricultural industry currently facing water problems?
José Tomás: The agricultural industry currently has significant issues, since several of the main agriculture products, such as avocados or blueberries, have a high sensitivity to salts. Farmers require a technology that allows them to improve the water quality while at the same time making better use of the water resource available. Avocados use a large volume of water, so agriculture companies urgently need to improve their water efficiency. There are technologies available today that allow for continuous and much more efficient production than what was available before.
Ax Legal: Is there something else agribusinesses could be doing to improve water sustainability?
José Tomás: In my opinion, the technologies available today are not accessible for all types of companies in the Chilean market. Therefore, I believe that what is needed today is support from government to make them more accessible so that the different industries that need it, can access it. There also need to be better communication regarding solutions that are available and raise awareness around the benefits to the environment. Another important factor is that in Chile, the users are interested in having proven technologies from companies with a local presence. This is essential since local companies need support and advice throughout the process from start to finish, between the supplier and the user companies.
Ax Legal: Are Chilean agricultural companies open to new technologies and willing to pay for them?
José Tomás: There are of both types. There are companies that are more reluctant to try something new, independent that the efficiency has been verified. But in general, when you have a tested technology in the country where the client is located, you have a local presence, advising him as an expert throughout the process, there is generally a good disposition to acquire new tools which will make the production or business much more efficient.
Ax Legal: What are some of the challenges in selling to the agricultural industry in Chile?
José Tomás: Breaking the paradigm of what has been done in the past. Many companies find it difficult to see that over time, the weather conditions and the way things are done have changed. For example, there are scenarios where companies mention that their way of doing things has always worked as they expected. This is fine but when you are in an industry where the main input resource is water, it should be taken into consideration that this element is becoming scarcer which means we need to have conscious use of it and understand at the same time that using new processes will allow for more efficiencies. On one hand, it requires an investment but in the long run there are fairly significant cost reduction considering that you will have a much more efficient use of the resource.
Ax Legal: Do you have any advice for foreign companies with interesting agricultural solutions that are interested in Chile?
José Tomás: Mainly my advice is the importance of having a local presence. This is key to delivering a good quality of service for your clients. Secondly, get advice from experts in your area in order to better understand how the Chilean industry and country works. Finally, be present with the client from the very beginning when you first introduce the product or service until the moment you deliver said service.
In the world of innovation and technology, we need to have the mindset that we are solving a problem by delivering a solution and it is not just a sale to a customer.
Ax Legal is a legal and business advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects are clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.
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