Experts talk about challenges and opportunities in livestock production in times of pandemic

A new scenario was established due to the situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and, as a result, the need to discuss the required adjustments and opportunities for innovation brought about by this in current food production models. To address this issue from the perspective of livestock production, IDH and partners held, in early June, an online seminar on health and traceability: the challenges facing post-Covid-19 calf production. Industry experts, the market and the university approached various aspects, such as health, market trends and new technologies and business behavior.

At the opening, the Executive Director of IDH Brazil and of the Landscape Program in Latin America, Daniela Mariuzzo, stressed that at this moment of uncertainty it is very important to be connected with partners and with what is happening in the field. “We have planned a set of seminars that are being held weekly for us to maintain this connection and continue the work.”

In the opinion of the representative of the Mato Grosso Breeders’ Association (Acrimat), Amado Oliveira, this is a well-timed discussion to maintain contact with farmers. “We have been working intensely, causing farmers to think and reflect on this situation. In spite of all the wear and tear, I believe that we will come out of this situation better and stronger, with many lessons”, he pointed out.

As reasoned by the moderator of the event, Stavros Tseimazides, from SPT Consultoria, there are challenges facing several areas, from the health and economic issue, and also including the social aspect, such as the inclusion of nearly 420 million people in the extreme poverty line “In this situation, agribusiness has an important role to play”.

For Mathias Almeida, from NatCap, “this pandemic has provided a more effective contact with all the links in the production chain, which allows us to see new opportunities, by bringing knowledge to farmers, while seeking to make production increasingly appropriate to the consumer market”.

By considering the domestic scenario, the director of the company Safetrace, Vasco Picchi, stated that there are already a number of actions being carried out in parallel to differentiate Brazilian products in the international market at this time. “Given Brazil’s leading role in the production of animal protein, this situation should cause impacts, but at this first moment, I see this as being positive, given that the Brazilian industry is prepared for this, for it has been subjected to various types of international inspections, in addition to the already existing concern with animal welfare and the practice of sustainability”.

Following the same line of analysis, Minerva Foods livestock procurement director, Fabiano Tito Rosa, pointed out that, “based on the situation generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, competitive advantage should increase for those whose production is focused on more quality, more sanity, and who is able to supply volume and quality, which is the case of Brazil”.

In view of such scenario, the professor at the Faculty of Food Engineering at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), Sérgio Pflanzer, pointed out the importance of recognizing the agents who continue to maintain their activities to prevent food production and commercialization from stopping. “We must compliment all these warriors (farmers) who are in the field maintaining production amid this difficult scenario, and also the companies that, despite temporary stoppages, have managed to bounce back, in addition to the inspectors and authorities who keep this whole system working ”.

About the Sustainable Calf Production Program

The purpose of the Program is to change the production and marketing dynamics of the livestock chain to make it increasingly inclusive and financially sound. It is coordinated by IDH with investments from Carrefour Group and Carrefour Foundation. Their implementing partners are the Mato Grosso Breeders Association (Acrimat), in the Araguaia Valley, and the NatCap, in the Juruena Valley, a region that also relies on commercial support of São Marcelo Farm. The program currently engages over 250 farms and is expected to reach 457 by the end of the it. IDH and the Carrefour Foundation are investing EUR 3.6 million in the Program for the implementation of activities.