84% of crops need insect-mediated pollination to be able to produce fruits and seeds. Biotechnology is starting to serve farmers to improve the performance of this crucial process. That is just what Matías Viel has done. He is the co-founder of Beeflow, a company dedicated to provide improved pollination services, in a global context of declining bee populations (one of the main pollinators). His objective is to improve the productivity of crops and to cope with the growing global demand for food. Because of this advance, Viel has become one of the winners of the Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2018 from MIT Technology Review in Spanish.
Until recently, Viel was an entrepreneur looking for a company to undertake. While deciding what to do, he came across Pedro Negri and Agustín Saez, two scientists who are experts in the biology of bees. Each of them had a solution to the problem, but neither of them knew how to apply it to society. On the one hand, Negri had discovered how to strengthen the bees’ immune system by administering a food supplement. On the other, Saez knew how to optimize pollination conditions to improve agricultural performance. Paradoxically, no farmer knew of the existence of any of these possibilities.
This is how Beeflow was born, a consultancy specialized in pollination. Their services include all the process management, the installation of the hives, the management of the bees’ food to enhance their health and the conditioning of their search for nectar to the crop of interest. "To achieve that the bees work better at low temperatures turns into an increase in the production of fruit plantations," Viel explains. The tests carried out with the producers willing to test these methods have achieved improvements between 20% and 90% in the production of the crops, figures well above the 10% that were set as an objective to convince the customers of the potential of their approach.
According to the director of postgraduate studies at the School of Biotechnology and Food of the Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey (Mexico), Jorge Welti, member of the jury of Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2018, Beeflow "seems to have eliminated main barriers to make the transfer of scientific knowledge to a beneficial application for different types of crops and is able to generate significant benefits."