Andreas Loechel: Bayer-Arena Is a Platform of Agro Technological Competencies
Festivities, balloons and a series of splendid live music performances marked the opening of Bayer’s fifth Agro-Arena in Ukraine. The Agro-Arena is the first of its kind in Poltava region, where its opening attracted much interest from farmers, locals and members of the press. The main purpose of Bayer’s Agro-Arena initiative is to provide a physical demonstration space for Bayer crop protection products such as herbicides and pesticides. Andreas Loechel, the man in charge of Bayer’s Crop Science division was one of the key guests at the opening party. He agreed to answer our most pressing questions regarding Bayer and the company’s future in Ukraine.
Latifundist.com: How do you see the future of the crop protection industry in the EU and Ukraine? Will increasing regulation help farmers?
Andreas Loechel: Ukraine has the same pesticide legislation as the EU. I personally think that it is unwise to simply copy the same legislation over here because it makes things inefficient. Ukraine and Western Europe are quite different in many respects, and a one-size fits all policy is not the best idea at this stage. I think we need to look on a case-by-case basis to determine which parts of the EU pesticide legislation should be adopted, and make the most sense for Ukrainian farmers.
Latifundist.com: How would you compare the crop-protection market of Germany with Ukraine?
Andreas Loechel: I think the crop protection markets in Germany and Ukraine are very different. In Germany, the market is still largely driven by a long tradition of farming, where entire generations of farmers rely on the use of Bayer products for their crops. Here, in Ukraine the situation is different. Ever since the early 2000s, when the large agro-holdings developed — farming has been a lot more business driven, and particular attention has been placed on production. Furthermore, farm sizes in Ukraine are much bigger than in Germany and other states of the EU. But what these markets have in common for us is the fact that they both have a strong demand for modern technologies and high quality products which Bayer produces. Ultimately the bedrock of it all, is that farmers in both Germany and Ukraine want products that give them maximum benefit — and Bayer is one of the best when it comes to this.
Latifundist.com: What distinguishes Bayer products from other alternatives?
Andreas Loechel: First of all, our products are very well researched. We are probably the company which spends the most on research and development when it comes to agricultural products. Our products are very thoroughly tested — and are made to comply with the highest environmental and safety standards. As a result they are very effective and safe for nature, wildlife and humans.
Latifundist.com: How do you comment on the planned structural changes that will soon happen in your company? Will there be new faces on the management team?
Andreas Loechel: When I came to Ukraine in 2012, I made a commitment to stay in the country between 3 and 5 years. I have already been here for 4 and a half years. Recently, I was offered a very interesting position in Bayer headquarters back in Germany. This is the reason for why I will be leaving at the end of this month. My successor will be in position from the middle of July. I cannot tell you exactly who he will be, as it has not been officially announced, but there will be a successor who will continue the usual stability of Bayer crop science in Ukraine.
Latifundist.com: Were there any achievements that you are particularly proud of during your tenure in Ukraine?
Andreas Loechel: Looking back, I am very happy with my life and work here in Ukraine. The Bayer crop science team is truly professional and they have been a great support. Working with such a team on a number of exciting projects was very fun — and what’s even better is that they all succeeded. One of our biggest projects was the launch of our co-operation with IFC, under which we developed 20 unique agro-solutions for farmers in Ukraine. All solutions are focused on giving farmers access to knowledge, finance and markets. In short, they help the farmers increase the profitability of their farm and get access to important knowledge and practical experience. This is a six year project — and we are currently in our 4th year. In 2018, IFC will exit and all of these business processes are going to be incorporated into the network of Bayer Crop Science.
Jovan Djordjevic, Latifundist.com