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A Window into Latin America – Crops, Pests, and Products with Diego Paniagua

Suterra May 25, 2023 12:57:10 PM
Diego Paniagua speaks to an audience.

It is often said that Suterra is a global leader in the mating disruption industry – but what gives us the authority to make that claim? Apart from decades of research and development in pheromone mating disruption, it is the exceptional people we employ.

A US team member recently sat down with Diego Paniagua, Suterra’s General Manager for Latin America, to get an insight into what it is like operating in the region.

Who is Diego Paniagua?

Diego Paniagua is Suterra’s General Manager for Latin America. The bulk of his work occurs in Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico. As the GM, he spends time traveling between these countries to better understand their markets and the current challenges that growers face. Diego’s primary focus is introducing innovative pheromone delivery platforms into areas of the world that have not experienced the benefits of mating disruption.

Mating Disruption in Foreign Markets

Diego started the conversation by sharing that each country has its own unique business model. For example, in Argentina, agricultural retailers tend to be small family-owned operations with minimal inventory. These retailers will often carry one brand of mating disruption and remain loyal to that brand for several decades. This differs from the United States, where agricultural retailers can be small or large and carry a wide range of crop inputs, often without commitment to one specific product.

Product demand also shifts in each country based on its crop market. Diego mentioned that in Argentina, there is a large pome fruit market. This shifts growers to concentrate on treating key pests like codling moth in crops such as apples and pears. With that challenge in mind, introducing the updated Puffer® model (link to blog on new puffer features?- great idea, we should also mention 25 years) in Argentina last year was very successful.

Argentina has also expanded its product portfolio to protect other high-value crops like grapes and citrus. In the latter, an attract and kill platform named Magnet MED protects citrus from multiple species of fruit flies.

Chile is the fifth largest exporter of wine globally; thus, wine and table grapes are a significant commodity worth protecting. Lobesia botrana (European grapevine moth) is of great concern to growers in Chile as it feeds directly on grape bunches and leaves them susceptible to fungal diseases like Botrytis. Suterra has the most diverse portfolio of mating disruption available to target Lobesia botrana in Chile.

Diego beamed as he explained that Suterra excels in Chile because it offers aerosol, dispenser, and sprayable pheromone mating disruption options to combat Lobesia botrana. However, he noted that growers tend to choose the aerosol Puffer® product for its 1/acre label rate, minimal labor requirement, and extended coverage of up to 210 days. In Chile, Suterra is the only mating disruption company to offer a Puffer® aerosol platform for Lobesia botrana.

In Peru, Suterra is the only mating disruption company in the marketplace. This achievement speaks to our commitment as an organization to aid growers worldwide in crop protection. Suterra has been at the forefront of sustainable pest management for decades and continues to be an integral tier of the integrated pest management pyramid regardless of location.

Right Place, Right Time

Diego stressed the importance of timing within the agricultural market. Like the United States, Chile is experiencing an increase in the adoption of biological technologies. Biologicals, like mating disruption, are attractive due to their ability to be readily integrated into existing pest management programs. With mating disruption, there are no issues with pest resistance, harmful residues, or adverse impacts to non-target species and the environment, creating excitement among users.

Another key component of building business is global partnerships. If a multinational company has a positive initial interaction with Suterra’s products and team of experts in one part of the world, they will often commit to adopting our products in other regions. In this way, we continue to be committed to building networks of trust worldwide. We also see the effects of early-adopters and large operations influencing other growers to realize the benefits of using mating disruption.

Purchasing from Suterra also guarantees access to experts like Diego, who have decades of industry knowledge and can provide product information specific to each crop and pest system. Suterra offers not only the exceptional mating disruption platforms growers recognize, but also educational resources and dedicated technical support.

Team Suterra

Regardless of your position within Suterra, our company culture offers vast opportunities to work cross-functionally and collaborate with a worldwide team. Diego says this is one of the most rewarding parts of his work. Executing product trials, creating long-lasting partnerships that get our best-in-class products into the hands of growers, and setting new benchmarks for growth to benefit the agricultural industry in Latin America and globally all drive his passion. Diego loves to participate in all parts of the business, and we thank him for sharing his experience managing Latin America with us.