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Isabel Vercauteren

CEO, Aphea.Bio

With its innovative pesticides and fertilizers using microorganisms, a Belgian company is well on the way to having a huge worldwide impact on improving sustainable agriculture.


“The agricultural sector is under huge pressure to become more sustainable due to ever more stringent legislation”, says Isabel Vercauteren, CEO of Aphea.Bio. “In addition, chemical pesticides are not always that healthy for the farmers themselves and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about how their food is grown. Moreover, pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers are seeing their range shrink more and more. So they, too, are in search of alternatives.”

Microorganisms as an alternative

“Aphea.Bio therefore wants to help farmers generate the same revenue but in a more sustainable, healthier way. We do that by developing products based on naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and yeast strains. These can then be used to replace or complement chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. We are a fully integrated product developer, which makes us unique”, Vercauteren explains.

Naturally occurring microorganisms can be used to replace or complement chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

From research to market

“We conduct very targeted searches for new microorganisms on the basis of a product concept that we have worked out in advance to resolve a specific issue. One of our first products, which is to be put on the market next year, is a biostimulant for wheat specifically developed to promote the growth of wheat by helping it to absorb nitrogen and phosphorous more efficiently. Another concept aims to create a product that protects plants against problems such as fungal infections or plagues of insects.”

“Once the correct microorganism has been isolated, we then of course have to test whether our hypothesis and our product concept yield a favourable effect. We use various methods for this, from lab tests or testing in the plant itself under controlled conditions (in a greenhouse or a grow room) to testing in the field. If the results are positive, our product development team gets down to work to create a stable product from the validated microorganism that is compatible with the farmers’ working methods. Finally, we submit a regulatory dossier. To sell our products, we work with partners such as local distributors and large multinational seed companies, that are looking forward to extending their range to include our innovations”, Vercauteren concludes.

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