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Peru Focus: Fruit Exports Drive Demand For Biologicals in Peruvian Agriculture

As their exports rise, Peruvian fields increase the use of bio-inputs to protect their crops, generating a growth in imports and an emerging local development that already has 59 laboratories.

Marienella Ortiz

The use of a virus has become an increasingly relevant component in the management of Peruvian fields. The Nuclear Polyhedrosis virus, basis of the bioinsecticide En Vivo, has become a popular solution for the natural control of Lepidoptera, used by agro-exporters of twelve different types of crops. Distributed by the firm Point Andina, En Vivo is the most imported bio-input in Peru, amounting to US$ 3.2 million according to customs data prepared by the market research firm Agro 360°.  

It is one of the names that is driving the growing demand for bio-based inputs for the nutrition and protection of Peruvian fields. In 2021, imports of bioinputs registered by the Integrated Agricultural Input Management System (SIGIA) totaled US$28 million. Although this is a small figure in relation to agrochemical inputs, which had imports of US$ 317 million in 2021, their dynamism is greater: biological products grew by 23.6% in 2021, while chemicals grew by 11.4%.

"In the last six years, the annual aggregate growth of bioinputs has been 15.9%," says Helder Diaz, commercial and marketing director at Agro 360°. "This year the growth of biological inputs will continue to grow at double digits."

"This trend towards organic products has been going on for a few years and arises from the requirements of large food supply chains in the world," says Hugo Jara, commercial manager of Point Andina, a distributor. "These demand foods with less pesticide residues, more innocuous, healthier and cleaner".

Most of these products are focused on bioprotection, biological products dedicated to the prevention of diseases and pests. According to customs figures, 60% of bioinputs are related to crop protection and the remaining 40% to biostimulants.

In addition to this greater interest in demand for products of biological origin, there is an operational difficulty for traditional chemical solutions: the greater time and resources it takes to obtain a new agrochemical product, which has limited innovation in new chemical molecules as opposed to biological ones.

"Over the past six years, the annual aggregate growth of bioinputs has been 15.9%. This year, bio-based input growth will continue to grow at double digits."

Helder Díaz of Agro 360°.

These are the factors that have prompted large companies such as the multinational Bayer, which allocates millions of dollars to the search for new chemical molecules, to develop a range of biological products at the same time. "Although Bayer is a company that belongs to the chemical industry, we are not exempt from investing and innovating from the biological production side," says César Torres, Field Marketing Manager of the German company in Peru. "A few years ago, we bought a laboratory called AgraQuest in the United States, which has allowed us to take the bull by the horns in the production of bacillus with which we produce Serenade and which has been a great contribution to national agriculture". The product is, in fact, the second most imported biological product in the country, with US$ 1.9 million registered by customs in 2021.  

Agro 360 reports that in a market study directed to agro-export producers with a sample of more than 50 companies with export invoicing between US$ 5 million and more than US$ 100 million, and the result indicated that blueberry and table grape producers are the ones that most apply this line of biological products and even exceed 30% of this use for their phytosanitary management. On the other hand, producers of vegetables such as asparagus and capsicum are already reaching 20% of this use. "Something similar can be seen in other fruit trees such as avocados, mangoes, pomegranates," says Diaz, from the market research firm. 


The dynamism of agricultural inputs cannot only be measured by import activity. At the local level, a local industry is emerging in Peru for the production of microorganisms, mites and insects as biological controllers, as well as biofertilizers and biostimulants, many of them based on local inputs. 

One of these cases is represented by the company Limsa, founded five years ago with Chilean capital, which has a catalog only made up of biological products based on microorganisms. Nicolas San Martín, the company's technical manager, recalls that at the beginning they had to work practically as an apostle to convince growers of the advantages of using bio-inputs. "I couldn't go to a company and tell them to take out the chemicals. We had to sell a whole concept of more natural crop management," he says, explaining that 90% of his clients manage conventional, not organic, fields.  Now the whole concept that he explained to his clients is part of a global trend that is reflected more clearly in Peru, he says.

"A few years ago, you couldn't just walk up to a company and tell them to replace chemicals. You had to sell a whole concept about more natural crop management."

Nicolas San Martín, of Limsa.

This development has also been supported by academia, despite the historical distance between universities and companies in Peru.  This is the case of the research of biologist Juan Gabriel Juscamaita, head of the Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory of the Universidad Agraria La Molina, who develops liquid fertilizers based on animal by-products, whether excreta, blood or others. In particular, his formula of a fertilizer based on anchovy has been commercialized with a brand called Alopes Forte, which has been used in different crops for its nutritional properties.

Anchoveta waste is the main material for this biological fertilizer produced in Peru.

"The important thing is that partnerships are being achieved between academia and business, which is what is needed for this type of development," he said, noting that innovations in the development of biofertilizers based on organic waste have no limits and can supply thousands of hectares of crops in the country.

The academy has also been accompanying the business sector that imports biologicals in their validation of doses and intervals in Peruvian farms. According to Dr. Luis Alvarez, professor and researcher at the Universidad Nacional San Luis Gonzaga de Ica, a treatment against powdery mildew in table grapes in Chile or Europe is not the same as here in Peru with a different climate. It is for this reason that in recent years he has been called upon by different companies to validate the use of biologicals in different fields.

Laboratories in expansion

Another indicator of the advance of the bioinputs market is the number of biological controllers production laboratories, registered by the National Agricultural Health Service (Senasa), which total 59 at the national level, of which at least 15 belong to the agroexporters themselves, who have sought ways to provide their own biological products. The rest are purely commercial initiatives.

One of these laboratories was installed by Agroindustrial Beta in Ica, for the production of beneficial insects. It was first born as a need to control pests in asparagus and for this purpose they started with the rearing of Chrysoperla Asoralis and of Trichogramma Pretiosum. After that, two more types of insects were added to control not only the asparagus fields but also the table grape fields. Today they are preparing to release beneficial insects on 200 ha of blueberries and 20 ha of mandarins.

Sibyl Loayza, Deputy Manager Quality Assurance in Farms of Beta, comments that self-supply has generated savings in the cost structure of the sanitary program. She says that when they have needed to buy from third parties, they have paid up to three or four times the cost that they manage with their own production.

Regarding all these activities with a national seal, it is difficult to determine the volume and amounts they move as a whole. What different producers who export their crops point out is that biological control represents 20% compared to the use of chemicals, and this figure is even higher in the case of blueberries.

"Normally, harvest dates are where you have the most disease problems in blueberries. Probably, I would say that in this crop we are using almost 70% of biologicals versus chemicals. Then comes the table grape that requires at certain phenological stages and from there the avocado that uses less biological", says the academic Álvarez, from the Universidad Nacional San Luis Gonzaga de Ica.

Blueberry was, in fact, the crop that has generated the most growth for En Vivo: the best-selling biopesticide in Peru began to be marketed in the country five years ago, when the treatment of lepidoptera was beginning to be a problem for agronomic management of blueberries as their cultivated hectares grew exponentially.


For the actors involved in this business, the Peruvian countryside is far from reaching the peak of this trend that is going uphill, especially because the markets are becoming more and more demanding in the safety of the food we export. For example, Alvarez mentions that today there are very select markets that only allow four chemical molecules, but they can pay more for the fruit. So, having a more innocuous production becomes more and more interesting for producers every year, he says.

"It has been an exponential growth; if we were to look at the official import reports for 2010 they would not reach US$ 5 million," says Helder Diaz, of Agro 360. "Additionally, it is key to mention that small and medium-sized producers of traditional crops are already trying biological and organic products; they are becoming more and more informed of this trend and importance of being able to reduce environmental impact, take care of their health at home and even finding products with good efficacy for the control of their pests and diseases at competitive prices."

"The trend is super positive and this will continue to grow. Now, growing means growing in several aspects, such as quality," says Limsa's San Martin. On this point, Bayer's Torres comments that the main challenge for the Peruvian bioinputs market will be greater regulation by the health authorities to ensure certain biosafety standards. This, he adds, will ensure that progress will not stop and will continue to grow at a good pace in the coming years with a view to achieving a much safer and sustainable agriculture.


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To request more information or send communications about biologicals, write to biologicalslatam@redagricola.com.   

Biologicals Latam es una revista digital trimestral de Redagrícola que informa de manera especializada sobre la intensa actividad que se está desarrollando en el espacio de los bioinsumos para la producción agrícola. Esta publicación en español e inglés es complemento del Curso Online de Bioestimulantes y Biocontrol y las conferencias que este grupo de medios realiza en torno al tema.