Interview to Juan Carlos Beltrán Ochoa, Agrícola Belher Project Leader

Juan Carlos Beltrán Ochoa is young man of second-generation growers at Agrícola BelHer, one of the pioneering companies in innovation in Sinaloa horticulture. He has had the opportunity to collaborate with different organizations and companies in the industry and is currently a Project Leader in the family business.

Juan Carlos is originally from Culiacan, Sinaloa; he has a degree in Business for Bently University.

  1. Could you share a little of your professional experience?

Started in 2013 when I began in the continuous improvement area in BelHer, where my main function was implement, with the support or a great work team, Toyota production system with the purpose to take care the resources of the company and optimize the waste of the production and packing areas.

Around two years of learning in Agricola Belher, I decided to move to Mexico City with the main purpose to increase my overview, have relations and strengthen my knowledge platform. I got a job in the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE), an intermediate organization or Mexican private sector, CCE and Proméxico member, dedicated to the promotion of the foreing trade, foreign investment and the techlogical development.

During the time I was in COMCE, I had the opportunity to develop a comprehensive analysis about the exportation of Mexican fresh produce to The Middle East, which was introduced it by the general directors and the COMCE president as the United Arabian Emiratis ambassadors, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Argelia, Iraq and Egypt, whose helped to promote the bilateral commerce in our country and the Middle East.

The time that I was in COMCE, increased my overview into the opportunities of accessing to different markets that sometimes as growers do not see because of not go out of our comfortable zone or because we see as far opportunities.

Now, I am sure that the future is in markets diversification and adjust our production to the global consumption trends are requiring as in marketing topics as new products.

In 2015, I had the opportunity to work into Liventia, it is a biotechnological company with 25 years of experience in the production and distribution of microbiological products of bioremediation for agriculture, livestock, oil and gas, water bodies and industrial apps.

In Liventia, I was responsible for leading a restructuring of prizes for the three of the main products of the agricultural sector of the company, with the purpose of attaining a better penetration into the market as Mexico and The United States.

In addition, I was responsible for communicate weekly and monthly to the team director of the market tendencies, fluctuations in prizes of agricultural commodities, changes in the economics of the producer, development in the new technologies, market value and benchmarking, etc.

During that time, I also was in charge to lead special projects of the company in collaboration with other companies, ONG and governmental agencies like Agroder, CIAD, SNIT, SAGARPA, CONANP, GIZ, Eleven Rivers Growers, etc. In addition, I was responsible of the following of all test in the farm of The United States in collaboration with other companies and academic organizations like Helena, Cool Planet, Florida University, Colorado State University, etc.

During my career, I have had the opportunity to represent as Agricola Belher and as Liventia in different agricultural national and international expositions such as Expo Agroalimentaria de Guanajuato, Expo Agro Sinaloa, Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, Fruit Logistica in Berlin, GreenTech in Amsterdam, Agritech in Tel Aviv, PMA in USA, etc.

  1. What have been your experience on working in a familiar grower company?

Lately, I decided with my father and brother, that is time of come back to work in the family company. The time that I work in Belher between 2013 and 2015 helps to understand how companies process work, but the time I was out give me tools and knowledge, which I believe are for the benefit to the company.

  1. How has been be certified with Eleven Rivers Growers for Belher?

It has been very good for the company. Our operation has considerably improved and our process each time are efficient.

The company has different commercial certifications and acknowledgments in food safety, social responsibility and one of the main advantages that we have observed with the Eleven Rivers Growers certification in contrast with other certifications, they are the weekly audits that are punctually carry out. Other certifications audit once per year and sometimes the company only prepares for that audit not paying attention day by day. The fact that Eleven Rivers Growers audits are weekly make us to enforce to do the things constantly in a better way, and that has permeated in the organizational culture, encouraging in our continuous improvement.

  1. Since when was born your interest in biotechnology?

Biotechnology is a very wide area, to extensive with applications from the diagnosis diseases to the modification of the genome, passing to the bioremediation and the bioengineering. Working for a company like Liventia, which it focuses in create microbiological solutions in order to remediate damaged ecosystems by human being and the excessive use of chemicals, it was taught me that with synthetic pesticides we cannot control the pests and illness that affect us in each productive cycle. It is necessary to establish integral programs with the incorporation of organic material on the ground likewise increase the microbiologic phytobenefic to deal the pathogens that waste the production and the quality of our products. This way, the chemistry alternative as a control tool tends to diminished getting fruits like minor agrochemicals scraps, promoting the food safety that markets national and foreign demand us.

  1. How the biological control works and how important is for crops?

In my opinion, the ideal is to have an integrate manage, starting with the use of organic amendments and plants extracts for the illness control and leaving as last resource the use of agrochemicals.

  1. The use of biological control can improve food safety of farming?

Definitely, the use of biological control can help to reduce the incidence of pathogens of the soil through the competition between phytobenefic organisms versus the organism that causes the illness. Also, I believe that implement a mix of biological and chemical control can optimize as quality as the performance of the crop and also getting safety production by reducing the use of synthetic chemical ingredients that affects the health of consumers.

  1. What are the main the plagues and illness that affect the fresh production in Sinaloa?

Talking about plagues, the major impact in vegetables in the recent years have been caused for nematodos of Meloidogyne gender, like bacteria’s that affects the vascular system of the plants like clavibacter sp. and ralstonia sp. In plagues, stand out the insect’s transmitters of viral illness like is the case of White fly, trips and aphids. In the chilies cases, weevil pest represents the main threat that strongly affects the performance and quality of the fruits.

  1. What factors do you consider could impulse the implementation of biological controls?

The biological markets have an annual growth rate of 18% for the next 5 years. It exists some factors that are detonating the growth of the use of biological control worldwide. The manning are:

  1. The growing demand for safety and quality food
  2. Low costs of I&D in the introduction of the new microbes products in the market in comparison with herbicides/Synthetic pesticides
  3. Increase in the regulatory framework out of limits of chemical waste
  4. More friendly with the environment agricultural practices.
  5. Major exportation controls.
  6. Lost of productivity because of the soil degradation

    9. Which are the main challenges that nowadays the food industry faces?

In the horticultural sector, we have seen the commercialization continues to be the challenge to overcome. We learn to produce good and with quality. We are efficient to manage the vegetable crops getting higher yields now we introduce technology like greenhouses and shades. However, the commercialization is a topic that we need to focus more, look for new markets y producing in volumes that the market can handle.