British agri-tech companies could benefit from opportunities in Argentina post-Brexit as the industry looks to harness innovations in data handling.
The University of Lancaster held a workshop last week focusing on agri-tech innovation opportunities in Argentina as the country looks to meet international demand for key commodities such as soya, maize and wheat.
Argentina grows about 46 million hectares of grain and many ingredients in British shops will contain ingredients from the country, such as all maize in Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.
The event, organised by N8 AgriFood was looking at exploring export and innovation opportunities.
Uniting food supply chain expertise from the eight most research intensive universities in northern England, N8 Agrifood had set aside £30,000 in funding to develop new working collaborations with partners in Argentina.
And Prof Mariana Rufino, a research fellow with the N8 Agrifood project, said many companies seemed surprised to learn of the opportunities, which she suggested could be down to politics.
“They did not know much about Argentina as a market that could be exploited. The relationship between the UK and Argentina has been cold for a long time,” she said.
“People are starting to look around at the opportunities.”
This industry produced a large amount of information, and farmers were looking for the capabilities to make sense of their data.
She said the UK was almost not present in the Argentinian industry, with a lot of technology coming from countries such as the US and Germany.
But she believed Brexit was an opportunity to work more closely.
“Argentina does not have a trade agreement with the EU because of the subsidies. It exports on World Trade Organisation terms to the EU,” she said.
“There will be plenty of opportunities for a new agreement with the UK.”
In May, Boris Johnson became the first British Foreign Secretary to visit the country in 25 years as he looked to improve relations ahead of Brexit. The UK Department for International Trade listed Argentinian agri-tech as a key area of interest for British investment.
Prof Rufino added there was also plenty of support for firms looking to export, with the Argentinian embassy sending a representative to the workshop.