Responsible Agriculture

Cultivos Selectos S.A.

2. Zero Hunger 6. Clean Water and Sanitation 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 15. Life on Land

Overview

Cultivos Selectos S.A. has innovated by implementing hydroponic systems in the cultivation of many of their products such as heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, and strawberries. Also, they have innovated by using 90% organic pesticides and only 10% traditional ones, by preventing soil erosion, and by reforesting areas where the river basins are located throughout their properties. This company helps solve the UN's SDG number six because of their responsible use of their water sources. Secondly, they help solve SDG number nine because they have adapted to using environment friendly systems in their production. Thirdly, they help solve SDG number twelve because they responsibly consume the water, pesticides, and land needed for their production.

Authors

Nicole Marie Batinovich

Nicole Marie Batinovich

Isabel Egido

Isabel Egido

Elena Torre

Elena Torre

Marina Larrañaga

Marina Larrañaga

Carlos Santiago Gemperle

Carlos Santiago Gemperle

School

Universidad de Navarra

Universidad de Navarra

Professor

Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo

Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo

Innovation

To help protect part of their crops from the rainy seasons, Cultivos Selectos installed roofs above their crops. They started with just 2500m of roofing and now have 7.5 hectares. Increasing the amount of roofing has helped them reduce the amount of chemical pesticides used because the crops have a better protection from the elements. Right now, 90% of the pesticides used are organic and 10% are chemical, but they are working to reduce the percent that are chemical even more.

After implementing these measures, the company decided to use a new system that they saw working in Spain, hydroponic technologies. This is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture that involves growing plants (usually crops) without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent, according to Wikipedia. Using hydroponics has many advantages in agriculture, most notably a decreased amount of water needed. Water is more efficiently used with hydroponics since it is recirculated instead of constantly fed fresh to the plants. These systems often pay for themselves over time in terms of efficiency and long-term yields. Cultivos Selectos uses this technology to grow its strawberries and is trying to use it in blueberries as well. These strawberries can grow vertically using less space, are less prone to flying pests, and since they don’t grow in soil, they don’t need any soil-based pesticides.

All of these innovations help the company have a more efficient and clean production of the aliments (SDGs 12 and 9), use less water in a more responsible way (SDG 6), and have more ground to reforest (SDG 15).

Responsible Agriculture

Hydroponic systems for strawberry production

Inspiration

His main inspiration was the need to protect the land he was in and protect their properties, which he calls "paradise." He considered it necessary to preserve and protect the land rich in water from erosion, so in addition to the innovations mentioned above, the company has a reforestation program in the areas where the river basins are located within their properties. Already, they have covered several hectares with new trees in order to ensure the water supply remains.

Another aspect that helps preserve their paradise is the limitation of traditional pesticides, which they have managed to reduce to only 10 percent of their total usage. They consider using some traditional pesticides as unavoidable due to the climatic conditions and large number of insects in the off-rainy seasons. Furthermore, they wanted to create value for the future generations. Not only do they want to have production, but they also want it not to lose its value.

Overall impact

Cultivos has limited their traditional pesticide use to 10%, resulting in crops having less chemicals that could be harmful to the land or possibly consumers. Doing this goes in line with SDG 12 (Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns) and SDG 15 (Protect, Restore, and Promote Sustainable Use of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Sustainably Manage Forests, Combat Desertification, Halt and Reverse Land Degradation and Halt Biodiversity Loss). Lessening the use of pesticides makes Cultivos support the actions of these goals. Some pesticides may be harmful to insects, however, are unavoidable when protecting the crops since pests are unpredictable and can hinder cultivation. Cultivos using less pesticides is beneficial to achieving these goals and is beneficial to the agriculture industry since it limits the harm of insects and biodiversity.

Cultivos has protected their water sources by preventing soil erosion and by reforesting areas surrounding the river basins. Preventing soil erosion helps keep the land healthy, which leads to higher crop yields and better quality produce. Reforesting also keeps the land healthy and prevents soil erosion while simultaneously sustaining the nutrition of the water sources. Reforesting also brings in natural methods of pest prevention such as birds to eradicate insects which harm the crops. These actions support the goals of SDG 6 (Ensure Availability and Sustainability Management of Water and Sanitation for All), SDG 12 (Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns), and SDG 15 (Protect, Restore, and Promote Sustainable Use of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Sustainably Manage Forests, Combat Desertification, Halt and Reverse Land Degradation and Halt Biodiversity Loss). Cultivos sustainably sources its water from its own property and protects this resource by investing in its preservation. Reforesting the land around the water sources also promotes biodiversity and targets a majority of the actions supporting SDG 15.

Protecting their water sources has lead Cultivos to introduce fertigation and hydroponic technologies into its cultivation. Fertigation fertilizes the soil by using the irrigation systems resulting in healthier and higher quality output. Hydroponic technologies uses less water than conventional cultivation methods and does so more efficiently to yield more crops without affecting the quality. Cultivos has used these technologies on their strawberries and lettuce crops. Cultivos contributes to the support of SDG 9 (Build Resilient Infrastructure, Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization and Foster Innovation) and SDG 13 (Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and It’s Impacts) by investing in new technologies for the betterment of the environment and the industry. They consume less water by investing in hydroponic technologies thus becoming more energy efficient and supporting the goal of SDG 13.

Business benefit

Innovation is essential for Cultivos Selectos’ success, as it increases productivity, growth, and profitability.

They have gained great recognition from customers, most of which are supermarkets. Consumers recognize that they are consuming a healthy product, since they can see the complete traceability of the product, from the seedbed to the table. The service is pioneering service in Latin America, and this is reflected on the company's revenues and growth rate.

Until the onset of the pandemic, their growth was constantly increasing. Although it had stalled in the pandemic, the company was able to maintain its full staff and expects to continue to grow in the near future.

Innovation also helps reduce waste and leaves Cultivos Selectos better positioned to focus on their long-term goal. The goal is to constantly be on the lookout for ways to eliminate waste. This target can bring a host of benefits—lower costs, better profit margins, improved customer service, and increased competitiveness.

Social and environmental benefit

The society is benefited by this innovation because of the reduction in pesticides and the benefits of their cooling process, which helps keep the vegetables fresh for a longer periods of time and reaching more parts of the country that have hotter climates possible. The cooling process ultimately helps provide access to fresh and high quality vegetables regardless of what part of the country a person lives in or what climate conditions they face. The hydroponic systems that they use also benefits society since it serves as an example to follow for fostering innovation (SDG 9).

The company continues to reduce the amount of pesticides used as new alternatives become available. This means that in the future the quality of the vegetables will keep improving. Since Cultivos Selectos offers its products to supermarkets like “Supermercado Riba Smith” and to restaurants and food chains like “Restaurante Leños y Carbón” and “McDonald's,” this quality improvement in the products will mean that many people in the future will be consuming higher quality products. In turn, the consumers will be benefiting their health and wellbeing, which relates to the SDG 2, since nutrition is being improved. With this and the hydroponic systems, the company ensures a responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), and ensures they can serve as an example for sustainable agriculture (SDG 2).

The production is also sustainable, meaning that the company tries to be responsible by using just the amount of water needed. They act in sustainable ways with the program “miambiente,” which has led them to already reforest 2 hectares. With this responsible way of using resources, they can better protection the environment, promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, and better manage forests in a sustainable way (SDG 15).

In conclusion, thanks to the innovation of Cultivos Selectos, agriculture has become more environmentally friendly and has made healthy products available for even more individuals.

Interviews

Jorge Batinovich Valderrama, Owner

Mila Batinovich Candanedo, Director

Photo of interviewee

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Cultivos Selectos S.A.

Cultivos Selectos S.A.

Chiriquí, Chiriquí, PA

Business Website: http://cultivosselectos.com/

Year Founded: 1991

Number of Employees: 201 to 500

Cultivos Selectos S.A. is a business founded by Jorge Batinovich II that started its operations in 1991. It is located in Cerro Punta, Tierras Altas, Chiriquí which is a province in Panamá. This business produces different vegetables and fruits such as carrots, strawberries, different types of lettuce, tomatoes and more. They use friendly cultivation practices because of the various benefits this offers their customers and the environment.