A conversation with Arturo Lizon, CEO PROBELTE
Probelte is a five-decade old company established to serve Agricultural hubs in Europe and therefore in the world. The company has its own microbiology, entomology, fermentation, and GLP lab. to start the study of microorganisms and in 2002, the company grounded its experimental microbiology plant to investigate the possibilities of more natural and environmentally friendly solutions. It has 90 different strains of microorganisms and various microbial product patents to its credit. Probelte is preparing to launch more than 8 new products in 2021.
Below is our conversation with Arturo, a very dynamic professional passionate about bioag. He talked in detail about company goals, BioAg Market in Spain, growth opportunities, and lots more.
1- PROBELTE is a fast-growing agrobiotechnology company from Spain. It is aggressively working towards spreading its wings in foreign lands. What opportunities do you see outside Spain and which are the prime locations?
Probelte is a company that throughout its history and its innovative DNA has developed a value proposition that we can be considered cutting-edge in its sector. The markets, we believe, our proposal has the most value for our clients are those with greater demand for the cultivated food in both quality and sustainability. Helping to grow very profitably to achieve the highest quality of fruits and vegetables for our customers is our obsession.
Therefore, the North American markets (United States, Mexico), the European markets such as Italy and France and the North African markets such as Morocco and Egypt that will be the pantry of Europe are ours and our reality.
We have subsidiaries and teams working in these countries with the intention of gradually developing comprehensive solutions that combine preventive and palliative solutions.
2- Spain has been a breeding ground for so many agricultural innovations and inventions. How can this potential be replicated in other geographical areas?
Spain is one of the great hubs of European agriculture and therefore worldwide. The luck of being in Spain and more so in the Murcia region is that it contains a unique variety of crops, types of land, and climatic zones. This variety places great demands on the quality of the products developed as well as the necessary scientific support. The European regulatory environment also places a very high demand on the development of efficient, profitable, and environmentally friendly products. The need to exceed these requirements puts Probelte at a level that allows it to approach with a very modern and competitive value proposition other markets that are very demanding or have European regulation as a reference.
3- Europe environmental policies are challenging farm production. What learnings of agriculture in general and specifically Biostimulants and Biocontrol from Europe agriculture could be transmitted to US?
I sincerely believe that learning should be mutual. I believe the European Community demands regarding sustainability, respect for the environment, and consideration of the impact on climate change and biological diversity are essential for the future of agriculture and I would say that of the future of the next generations of humanity.
It is the right path without a doubt and all the agricultural areas of the world must begin this journey. The United States must begin to walk in this direction with more determination both at the regulatory and administrative level and at the attitude of the industry at all levels as a sustainable growth strategy for the future.
However, the regulatory environment and administrative management in Europe are a real impediment to innovation and change in this direction. In this sense, I believe that the United States is much more suitable, and a promoter of innovation needed for that change.
For this reason, I believe that European companies should forge alliances with North American companies to put the United States at the forefront of agricultural innovation.
In this sense, I believe that Europe must learn from how it should regulate itself to promote innovation and change.
4- South European countries like Spain has an intensive crop production model in well-know farmlands such as Almeria or Murcia. How can these innovative growing models sustain its leadership in a global market?
Almeria and Murcia are undoubtedly in a very intense process of innovation and not only to adapt agricultural policies to the requirements of sustainability and respect for the environment by their own conviction and by the demands of the central and northern European markets. New digital technologies are also being introduced for such holistic and time management of agriculture.
5- PROBELTE has shown a disruptive approach to customers by the partnership in services digitalization and fast track technology adoption by Growers. What has been the major challenge so far, and which crops accepted earlier in this transformation?
We at Probelte view the management of agriculture in a similar way to how human health is managed. The management of agriculture should be seen as a journey in which the environment must be cared for continuously over time, just as human health must be cared for almost from the moment it is born.
The key of this strategy is to see this management as a continuum in which environmentally friendly preventive solutions are combined with palliative solutions to combat pathologies that must be treated more and more specifically without side effects.
Preventive solutions must combine natural biological and nutritional solutions. The palliatives can be biological or chemical but very specific to attack the plague or specific disease that has not been prevented.
The effectiveness of these ongoing agriculture management strategies is improved in efficiency and prevention with digital technologies and the data accumulated on this journey to create preventive action models. Human health and the health of the earth are closely related and will be managed in the future in a very similar way.
6- What possibilities of partnerships and joint ventures would you like to explore in BioAg World Congress?
The United States is a huge market and with very different climatic zones. Although, as I have already said, the enormous luxury that Probelte has of having its center in Spain gives it a very broad knowledge of crops in different environments, all markets have their peculiarities.
That is the reason why we are looking for partners in the American market who share a similar vision of the future of agriculture and strategies to develop innovative value propositions combining biotechnological solutions and who understand the value of digital technologies in profitability and growth potential. And we are looking for companies of a similar size to ours because they will better understand the challenges and importance of this type of project.
Arturo Lizón is an International Executive with more than 30 years of experience creating, developing, and transforming companies leveraging state-of-the-art digital technology. He has his Ph.D. in Solid State and Computational Physics from UAM – Madrid Spain. At top managerial positions, he has defined and implemented new business model transformations, operational and organizational restructuring, and successful internationalization strategies of retail and B2B companies. As an experienced turnaround executive and co-founder of several successful start-ups, he is used to working with company owners and international investors in creating the conditions and leading the implementation of new business realities.
More about Probelte:
Probelte's management team is made up of a combination of highly experienced profiles from the agricultural industry with executives specializing in the transformation of companies through the development of knowledge, data, and digital technology. This vision that prevention is better than cure and that the land, soil, and crop management is a continuous journey through time is reaching this industry with great force and we, as Probelte, want to be part of the leaders of that change. Health does not only refer to the health of the environment, soil, and crop but we extend it to human health. It is not possible to differentiate them, they are closely related and are part of the same thing. The strategies to improve human health are closely related to the management strategies of the soil and how crops are cultivated. The same applies to soil health, crop management, and agriculture. The future of agriculture management is a combination of both preventive and palliative strategies to achieve the best results, with the highest profitability and sustainability, and respect for the environment.
What we contribute to this industry in a deep experience in the use of digital technology to incorporate in a profitable way reducing transaction costs all the variables that affect the correct management of a preventive and palliative proposal, that is, the information of the environment (time, actions), the local characteristics of the land, the specific cultivation and the proposed solutions, as well as information on past actions and interventions.
The optimal exploitation of all this information to achieve the best yield and sustainability can only be achieved using digital technology to analyze, propose and manage the treatment or solution.
The European Commission, through the new CAP (common agricultural policy), is defining a new framework for action and management of agriculture that is aligned with Probelte's strategy. Its “Farm-to-Fork” program basically pursues the same objectives as the “Soil-to-Health” strategy the Probelte, and human health is closely related to the health of the soil, agriculture, and the way crops are managed. This vision is what we want to export to our markets.
The company's development project in the United States is the company's strongest bet for the coming years. Undoubtedly, its geographical area is most oriented to business and its level of demand represents a challenge that is very useful in the business evolution and transformation processes of companies. Furthermore, the value proposition that Probelte is developing is very appropriate for the current situation and regulatory environment in the United States. The attitude of the agricultural and non-agricultural entrepreneurs to incorporate new solutions to improve is one of the great opportunities for the company compared to other geographical areas of the world.