2014 went down in history for many reasons: it was the year in which the United States lifted its blockade of Cuba and re-established international relations after more than half a century. It was the year in which the annexation of the Crimean peninsula to Russia was signed in Moscow following a referendum, and Real Madrid won their tenth European Cup in Lisbon. But 2014 will also be remembered as the year in which one of the most fruitful relationships for the development of agriculture in Mexico began.
That year, Seipasa and Natural Grow signed an alliance and started out on their journey. As is often the case, the beginnings were a mixture of chance and necessity. “I had known Felipe for many years and one day he happened to see me walking past his farm and asked me about it. He told me that he had a number of problems on his farm and asked me what we could offer him from our catalogue”, explains Enrique Trelles, Seipasa’s commercial developer in Mexico and the person who laid the foundations for the project in the land of the Aztecs. Felipe is Felipe Alberto Gaxiola, CEO of Natural Grow.
From that first conversation came the commitment to launch a technical trial to test the effectiveness of Seipasa’s products. What happened next is just the beginning of a beautiful story. “When Felipe saw the results, he couldn’t believe it. At that time it was very common for us to use Oxamyl left and right to control nematodes, and he couldn’t believe that an organic product, a botanical molecule, could have such an effect compared to the chemical we had been using all our lives,” says Enrique Trelles.
Agriculture with high value-added
Seinema was the first point of contact between the two brands, which have since enjoyed parallel development and rapid growth. “We started by renting an office of just over 30 m2 in Las Quintas and a small 10x25 warehouse on the road to La Costerita. There were only 9 employees, but from the beginning we knew that wanted to transform agriculture with high-tech solutions. We wanted to focus our model on those growers who were looking for a high quality crop, free of chemical residues, and who were willing to move up a notch or two in terms of what they could offer the market. This is where we found the best ally to start this journey with: Seipasa,” says Felipe Alberto Gaxiola.
After Seinema, the catalogue grew with Pirecris, with which Seipasa also obtained the Cofepris phytosanitary registration in 2014, the company’s first in the Mexican market, and Seipa System. At the same time, Natural Grow began its expansion process. Culiacán in Sinaloa was followed in just three years by openings in the states of Jalisco, Baja California and Sonora (Hermosillo), with strawberries, avocados and table grapes joining horticulture as the most representative crops.
Of course, it was not an easy start, especially in a market accustomed to working with chemically synthesised products and very reluctant to trust natural solutions of botanical or microbiological origin.
“When we first started working with farmers, everyone treated us like madmen. They asked us how we could propose a pest management or biostimulation programme with green products when there was still a heavy use of synthetic chemicals in Mexico and LATAM. Everyone closed their doors to us, and the people who dared to test us always compared us to synthetic chemicals,” recalls Enrique Trelles.
New market demands
The tightening of the international regulatory framework, the rigidity of the major supermarket chains in terms of MRLs (Maximum Residue Limits for pesticides in food) and, above all, the increased awareness of consumers for a healthier diet free of chemical residues are some of the reasons why the markets are moving towards sustainability and organic growth in fruit and vegetable production.
The trend is very strong now, but we are years ahead of the rest because we were committed to this type of agriculture from the beginning and did not have to change anything: it was in our DNA,” says Natural Grow’s CEO.
Since then, Seipasa’s product catalogue has continued to grow, with bioprotection references such as Cinnerate or Fungisei, with Cofepris registration and OMRI certification, and others in the biostimulant segment such as Kynetic4 and Superbrotal.
Natural Grow has also continued to expand with the opening of new distribution centres in Michoacán, Baja California Sur, Bajío, Sonora (Obregón), until the inauguration of the new offices and central warehouse in Culiacán in October 2020. This new facility is a turning point that confirms the solidity and dimension that Natural Grow has acquired in the northwestern regions of the country, offering farmers new alternatives for the production of fruit and vegetables with high value-added.
Looking back on a decade together, the question is: what now? In this case, looking to the past is directly proportional to the drive to lead in the immediate future. “Mexico has immense potential of which, so far, we have only touched a small fraction. We will continue to grow. Growing is not an option, it is our natural sense,” says Enrique Trelles, highlighting the new product developments and phytosanitary registrations the company is working on to expand its product portfolio in Mexico.
Natural Grow, meanwhile, plans to further strengthen its presence in Sinaloa with new openings in El Rosario and Los Mochis, in the southern and northern parts of the state, respectively.