Meet Gustavo Vasques, the CEO of ICL South America, a pioneer in specialty minerals with a focus on cutting-edge and long-lasting approaches to plant nutrition, animal nutrition, and the provision of raw materials for the fertilizer industry. ICL’s distinctive combination of natural resources, personnel, and technological innovation applied to the particular requirements in countries where it conducts business impacts the growth of production and food quality, permits sustainability in agriculture and industry, and aids in environmental protection.
Born in São Paulo City, Gustavo has a degree in Business Administration, with an MBA in Business Administration from the Business School São Paulo and extension courses at the University of Toronto – Rotman School of Management and Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management. From November 2017 to 2021, Gustavo presided over the South American operations of Compass Minerals, where he was responsible for aligning and developing the company’s businesses – agriculture, plant nutrition and physiology, animal nutrition, water treatment, and chemicals for industrial processes – in Brazil and other places. With the acquisition by ICL in the same year, Gustavo eventually became the company’s CEO in South America.
A True Global Leader
Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, ICL(Israel Chemicals Companhia) is a global leader leveraging its unique resources and technological capabilities to develop impactful and sustainable plant nutrition and physiology solutions. With more than 12,500 employees worldwide, 38 production sites in 13 countries, and 24 Research and Development Centers including 3 in Brazil. In 2021, ICL reached revenues of approximately US$ 6.95 billion globally.
Currently, the company controls ICL, Aminoagro, Dimicron, and Maximus in South America. Its agricultural business portfolio now includes enhanced efficiency and gradual release fertilizers, soil and foliar micronutrients, secondary macronutrients, seed regulation, treatment and supplementation, soil and spray conditioners, adjuvants, and products for animal nutrition and industry.
Tackling Society’s Primary Challenges
“ICL understands that, in order to advance effectively, quickly, and towards society’s main challenges, it needs to work beyond the company’s walls, that is, in partnership with universities, academia, entrepreneurs, and startups. This world of agtechs is full of brilliant minds who are developing a series of projects that, associated with our efforts, can collaborate a lot so that we can achieve our challenges,”– said Gustavo
ICL’s obsession with innovation led to the introduction of the “ICL Planet Hub,” which is a platform that links these bright minds to think about the future. ICL has been leveraging this partnership to interact with entrepreneurs in Brazil and throughout the world through the Brazilian Agtech Garage, situated in Piracicaba, a city in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo. Still, from a Global point of view, ICL has two exceptional companies: Agmatix and Growers, which provide solutions in the digital field.
“When we combine startups with established companies, we have a positive combination of structure, capital, proximity to the market, and capillarity with entrepreneurs and good projects and scientists. So, the main way to connect to the objectives and challenges companies have been trying to solve is to present projects and purposes for this target audience. In our case, we have a platform to receive this information and contacts from the agri-techs with which we will relate to connecting our objectives and the projects of these entrepreneurs,”– Gustavo stated.
Tools Transforming the Agritech Industry
There are several tools aimed at digital agriculture to capture and process data in a much better way. Since agriculture is a very technological segment, rural producers make countless daily decisions regarding technologies and their positioning. On the other hand are the researchers and the academia, who generate information daily. Data to connect these two environments in an increasingly less empirical way is extremely essential. So, satellites, artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones, and rapid diagnostic tools are necessary for this direction.
Tackling the Pandemic
COVID caused impacts of different natures, including digital acceleration on farms. Not as a replacement for human presence in the field but as a process and communication facilitator. So, in that period, ICL witnessed an acceleration in the digitization of agriculture. Another important point is that in a pandemic period, perceptions regarding the quality of life and health gained other proportions, which are entirely linked to what we eat, that is, also opening new paths and opportunities for agtechs.
Awards and Accolades
ICL has been intensively dedicated to corporate governance, innovation, and sustainability. In addition to increasing the productivity of the field, ICL has received the More Integrity Seal (an award from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply to agribusiness companies for good integrity practices) from the Ministry of Agriculture for four consecutive years. It was also recognized as one of the most innovative companies in agribusiness by the Valor Inovação prize for two successive years and as one of the 5 Best Agro Companies in Brazil by EXAME Business Review.
“When we talk about increased productivity, we are very proud to see our customers standing out in national contests with soy and corn crops and quality in coffee.”– said Gustavo
Looking at the Future
ICL invests 52 million USD yearly, with innovation at the forefront. With three research centers in Brazil and 24 research centers worldwide, ICL aspires to bring satisfaction to its customers while being linked to a sustainability agenda. Annually, ICL brings new technologies and services and reinforces its commitment to continue in this direction.
“We see ICL growing with our customers and the communities we are in, following our commitment to innovation, pioneering responsibility, and sustainability. We will be active members of this agriculture and society of the future,”– stated Gustavo.