Europe adopts a more conservative stance toward agricultural changes compared to other regions and this conservatism potentially shapes the global trajectory of agricultural innovation. This inquiry gains relevance in light of the recent EU Commission approval, signaling a significant policy shift with the banning of more products and a 50% reduction in crop protection, indicating a potential transformation of Europe into a more closed market.
‘As a global technology provider, we observe concerns about the impact on global food security, as Europe, driven by the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy, extends its regulatory influence to developing countries, including Africa. This regulatory shift affects bilateral and multilateral trade, restricting the use of certain products in incoming countries. The consequence is a rapid reduction in available products and tools for farmers in smaller nations. The upcoming Asia meeting will address the potential impact of the EU Green Deal on future trade between Asia and the EU. Furthermore, a motion preventing the manufacturing of products not registered in the EU within its borders may lead to the relocation of manufacturing facilities from EU-related countries,’ adds Dr. Siang Hee Tan.
Per Ernest Myburgh, the biggest constraint for the commercialization of natural plant protection products, currently is the regulatory environment: 'Each country in Africa approaches the registration process differently and some are struggling to make the shift from registering conventional products to registering natural products. Currently, in a country like South Africa, biological products follows the same registration process as conventional products, which is a very long and expensive process. What we are seeing is a gap opening up between conventional products being withdrawn from the market and the new sustainable products coming to the market. For the export markets in particular, this is becoming a great risk.'
‘Small players face unique challenges in a world dominated by industry giants. Government regulations struggle to keep up with technological advancements and established companies resist change that may impact their profits. Overcoming these challenges requires raising awareness, incentivizing companies and striking a balance between internal development and collaboration with smaller tech firms. Intellectual property rights also emerge as a significant global barrier, with the need for open and respectful negotiations to foster innovation,’ adds Rieks Smook.
Innovation was at the forefront of our panel, in terms of both strategy and sustainability of what is currently in place in terms of resources and processes. All panelists agreed on the need for prioritisation of innovation and moving away from the traditional way of thinking as well as the value of collaboration, particularly among big and small companies alike.