By Juan Herrera
Interview for ECA AGRI to Jaime Hernani, general director of the Spanish Association of Manufacturers-Exporters of Agricultural Machinery and Components, Greenhouses, Crop Protection, Irrigation Systems, Livestock Equipment, Animal Health and Nutrition, Forestry, Biomass and Forest Machinery Post-harvest (Agragex), who analyzes for us the sales of agricultural machinery abroad.
ECA AGRI: Spanish exports grew in the year 2016 by 3% despite the difficulties of the sector. What were the main reasons for this increase?
Jaime Hernani: the behavior of exports of agricultural machinery and equipment in 2016 is nothing more than the result of many years of investment in time, effort and money of the Spanish exporters in the international markets under AGRAGEX. The figures are really spectacular and far exceed the sales of sectors with more glamour and media impact as the machine tool, but the primary sector has to keep fighting to gradually get that place that corresponds to us on the international stage.
“2016 seems like a good year, but it could have been much better if it were not for the international context where we move with all the uncertainty that surrounds us and that makes us sleep many nights”
ECA: how has the market responded by sector?
J.H.: very disparate. Although the agricultural machinery and its components are the origin of AGRAGEX, these have been overwhelmed by the livestock sector and more specifically the health and animal nutrition, on the one hand, but also is not wrong irrigation and crop protection sector without forget the storage and post-harvest equipment.
ECA: which countries represent the main buyers? Which ones are targeted?
J.H.: Europe takes 2/3 of our exports, highlighting France as our first customer despite the crisis that has been immersed the last 3 years. We expect 2017 to be a turning point and that French imports will rebound and France will once again be a great customer. North Africa is another very important area for Spain, Latin America and lastly Asia is the most likely areas for our exports and where we have a lot of hope if the dollar goes up at once.
ECA: what radiography would you make of the situation of the sector today?
J.H.: dangerous concentration of the big European manufacturers creating true monopolies that will jeopardize the survival of the small manufacturers. These will have to specialize a lot to be very competitive. A very changing climate that you no longer know in which season you are, which creates a real confusion both to the plant and to the animal.
ECA: where does your future go?
J.H.: for having to feed more and more people, which puts in question many models of sustainability, ecology, rationality, animal welfare … Everything can not be.
ECA: what does Agragex do with its partners?
J.H.: our job is to advise Spanish companies where to start an internationalization. Organize the foreign promotion activities in the five continents and go hand in hand with them. Always be with them and work for them. More than one billion export, more than 100 customer countries, 110 associated companies throughout Spain and more than 7,000 direct jobs.
“In 2018 we will turn 40 years helping Spanish companies in the agricultural and livestock sector to go outside Spain to sell our equipment and diversify the risk of a very weak national market still “
ECA: what are your main challenges?
J.H.: stay alive in a country where there is still much to do and where small and micro enterprises have been forgotten. Here we only talk about the few multinationals, when it is our small companies that make the real “brand Spain” constantly traveling around the world looking for new market niches. We need more aid from the Administration. Outside promotion is not an expense is an investment. Finally, and to finish, we encourage all Spanish manufacturers of agricultural machinery, livestock, irrigation, greenhouses, silos, animal health and nutrition and post-harvest machinery associated with AGRAGEX. It says the saying that the union makes the force!