Rodrigo Belalcázar, the new general manager of Ingenio Manuelita, highlights the efforts in innovation and technology that are being made in the sector, but insists that the task is tireless.
Although he never completely left, Rodrigo Belalcázar assures that he is in the induction process. In the more than six months that he has been in charge of the General Management of Ingenio Manuelita, he has dedicated himself to reviewing what he already knew about the sugar business, taking advantage of his experience in the palm growing sector and preparing for a new challenge. Information letter He spoke with him about his vision of innovation and science in the sugar sector and what he will bet on when he returns to the mill.
Although he never left the Manuelita Group, he did have the opportunity to look at the sugar sector from the outside. Compared to other agribusinesses, how do you see the sugar business in terms of science and innovation?
I come from a sector such as the oil palm agribusiness where there are significant advances in these aspects, but I have also had the opportunity to stay informed of the development of the sugar business, so I am convinced that it is a leader in research and research in Colombia. innovation, which is essential to improve levels of competitiveness.
In these areas, what do you think should be the bet of the sugar sector for the next few years?
It must continue to innovate with a focus on reducing production costs, increasing productivity and generating value-added products. We must be much more aggressive in the use of biotechnology in order to develop varieties resistant to water stress, high in sucrose and resistant to diseases.
There have been important achievements. We have Site Specific Agriculture, advances in fertilization and irrigation; but the best practices, to make processes more efficient, never run out.
So I do not think you have to think about a bet or what is needed. What is missing is to intensify the effort to achieve more effective results on all fronts. In this the work is endless and must be tireless.
But changing the 'chip' to encourage the implementation and use of new technologies or tools is not easy ...
No, it is not easy, but there are other agribusiness sectors that are more reluctant. Cane growers, for example, are more receptive to the adoption of technologies and the need to innovate.
Undoubtedly, important work has been done in scientific and technological development and in its transfer. Today the mills work closely with the Center by testing their land, but we have to show more to convince people about what is being done.
People are more convinced by what they see than by what they are told. The transfer sessions that are held calling on growers to show progress in research are an interesting model that should be continued, but I think that a lot of emphasis should also be placed on technical assistance.
You come to lead an emblematic company in the region, with what plans are you taking on this new challenge?
This year will be difficult for the sector due to the low productivity that we will have as a result of the climatic effects of previous years. However, difficult moments allow you to be much more creative to overcome them.
In the short term, our objective will be to work to the maximum to recover productivity, being more efficient and reducing production costs. This necessarily means being innovative and taking more advantage of the scientific and technological developments that are made through Cenicaña. With that we are ensuring our competitiveness in the business.