Ecuadorian biotech: “Green is more than a colour”


Columnist Maria Nadolu discovers impressive biotech innovation in South America in the form of Ecuadorian company Biosiembra.

Isabel Jarrin, Biosembra CEO, asked me to be at her place by 6am, and greeted me cheerfully with an excellent coffee and a pair of perfectly fitting rubber boots. Sparkling and alert, she was ready to start a bright new day. A typical “bright new day” would consist of a 200-plus km drive, visits to three or four farms, and meetings with agronomists, before returning to the office and having a wrap up session with her team.

She could convince anyone, regardless of prior interests, that Ecuador is the place to be, and “speaking green” is their natural language. Amongst her bestselling tools, the killer-phrase “we have the most beautiful roses in the world”; she should know, since her biotechnology company Biosiembra works with some of the biggest rose producers in the country. Isabel’s enthusiasm is so infectious that when she speaks about what she does, and all that is related to the miracle of green technologies and micro-organisms, one can only embrace the challenge, fit the boots and discover her work in situ.

Biosiembra brings a fresh biotech adventure. With a young and dynamic team, it provides a very valid “green” and affordable solution: high quality, low impact organic fertilisers for agriculture and consumers. To position itself on the market and build stamina in a super-sized industry, Isabel and her collaborators do more than hard work; they also work to change mentalities. Their product is very different from traditional chemicals; it is alive, and customised to every soil and culture, so they actually take the time to adapt it to the needs of each farm they work with.

I spoke to Isabel to find out more:

Do you speak green? And if so, what’s your favourite sentence?

We now live in world where green has become more than a colour and more than a fashion trend. Green is now a way of living.

How did Biosiembra come to being?

Biosiembra was born as an idea in Switzerland while I was studying there in early 2000. I noticed that more people care about the products they were consuming and the demand was leaning towards more healthy and organic products. I noticed we were a new generation that for the first time was asking for more natural and less chemically produced food. I saw it as a business opportunity and that is how the idea of Biosiembra started.

What’s new about Bioesembra?

Biosiembra produces beneficial microorganisms for the soil. We are a biotech company and our formula is not only innovative to Ecuador but for the world. We have found a formula where more than ten of these microorganisms can live together in one bottle, when commonly they are sold separately and at extremely high prices. This small change brings huge benefits to farmers as they can have the best of biotechnology at affordable prices and see great results in their soils and crops.

What are your priorities for 2016?

In terms of our new goals as a company we keep developing new products. We have a line of seven commercial products so far. This year I want to give more emphasis to a new group of bacteria responsible for fixing atmospheric nitrogen. We have tested the product and we are certain that its regular use will definitely help the farmer reduce the amount of chemical fertiliser they use by an average of 30 per cent or more in some cases. Aside from this benefit this group of bacteria creates life and biodiversity in the soil, helping to fight undesired pathogens that affect the plants.

In terms of economic growth, we have remained stable in the past three years with sales of $1 million USD approximately each year. However this year we expect to grow an average of 25 per cent more.

What makes you wake up every morning and get on the road?

My biggest motivation is knowing that every drop of Biosiembra spread into the plant contributes to growing a healthier and better world. We can all help in different ways, however, this is how Ecoharmony helps create a better place for future generations.

Maria Nadolu is a media consultant traveling the world with experience in art history, advertising, country branding, and cultural management. Maria has lived and worked in Europe, MENA, Asia and the Americas. She believes that connections are more important than differences; and building bridges to oneself, nature, and communities is the only way to live in the present and create a better tomorrow.