Colombia licence helps Northampton firm grow
By Jonathan Davies
A Northampton firm is helping Colombians grow bigger tomatoes, an announcement which comes during UK Trade & Investments (UKTI) Export Week.
Derby Road-based Agentra has secured a licence to sell its special organic fertiliser in Colombia where it is being used to grow tomatoes 85 per cent bigger than before, as well as helping to boost banana crops and increase the potato harvest.
Rafael Jose Mora, the Director of the firm, came across the fertiliser, KaitoSol, while studying for his MPhil at The University of Cambridge eight years ago, where he met the professor who owns the product.
The product is 100% natural, made from plant and shrimp extracts, and does not contain any harmful chemicals or genetically modified compounds.
Working together they secured the licence necessary to sell the product in Rafael’s home country.
Rafael said: “Securing the licence took time as there are very strong regulations around the use of fertiliser in Colombia and it takes a long time to register the product.
“We knew it would be a growing market as Colombia benefits from having continuous farming all year round, so fertilisers are sold into the market continuously.”
Initial research done into the tomato crops that have been treated with the special fertiliser shows not only are they 85% bigger but it also creates 7% more of the giant tomatoes.
Rafael will be sharing his tips on exporting to Colombia during UKTI’s Export Week-High Growth Markets, at a Latin America business breakfast on Friday 17 May.
The UKTI Export Week aims to increase the momentum of sales to High Growth markets and reach as many businesses as possible with information about the support available from UKTI for selling their products and services to millions of potential new customers.
Rafael continued: “Of course it has been easier for me than most as I’m from Colombia and I know the market, but by operating from the UK and learning the British culture there are a few pieces of advice I would give to any local firms who want to expand to Colombia.
“My number one piece of advice is to make sure any product complies with Colombian regulations, and make sure the product is registered before you do anything else.
“It’s also important to respect the formalities of doing business. For example, make sure you find out how you should address business contacts as there is a strong hierarchical structure and using someone’s first name could be seen as disrespectful.
“Also bear in mind that Colombians like to keep business and personal life separate, although business lunches are common, business dinners are less so as Colombians cherish family time.
“And remember they are extremely strong negotiators, so be very clear in your mind about what you want to achieve before you enter a meeting.
“Very importantly remember there are so many opportunities in Colombia for UK firms.
"The country doesn’t make anything so there is a constant high demand for all types of machinery and high technology – from car engine parts to lighting - all of the products that firms in the UK can supply.”