Contract growing has gained in popularity over the years and Technology Crops International based in Winston-Salem has taken the concept of contract growing to a whole new level. Andrew Hebard, President and CEO of TechCrops explains what TechCrops is about:
"We contract crop production with farmers around the world to produce crops that they wouldn't ordinarily grow, if there wasn't a compelling market out there for them. And we get them to grow crops that are value added, sustainable and slightly unusual in terms of their application. And we work with the growers putting in place a supply chain so that they contract grow the crops knowing that they have a dedicated and value added end market. And we work with the end market to make sure that they have an assured and sustainably reliable supply chain for the raw materials that they need."
SFN: Speaking of that end market, you actually have that end market secured before you actually contract with the grower, isn't that correct?
"That is correct. We don't produce anything speculatively which a really important factor of our business. We make sure that every crop that a grower produces is on contract to an end market somewhere in the world. Our end customers will make commitments to us in advance of us going and contracting with the farmer. So, we're really putting the dots together in a whole supply chain and making sure that the grower has a market to sell his crop into and our end market customers have a reliable supply of the raw material.
And we really try to make sure that demand supply and are well balanced. That way, you're removing the volitility of pricing that we're seeing so commonly now in the market place and also the uncertainty of growers producing for market that they may not know whether it is really a long-term, viable alternative to what they're currently growing."
SFN: Now, you mentioned earlier that you contract crops that may not ordinarily be grown, let's have some examples of those.
"One of our largest crops at the moment is a crop called high -orusticastic rapeseed. And that is a very special type of canola. And the oil from that goes into manufacturing plastics, plastic bags, plastic bottles; it goes into certain cosmetic products; slip agents, high grade bio-lubricants and some pharmeceuticals, as well. that's a very small percentage of the overall world market for canola, but it is a value added crop and we are one of the world's largest producers of that material. It also goes into some food products, that have sort of high-end applications that you can't get that level of funcitonality fromregular canola oil."
SFN: Now Andrew, if a producer would be interested in talking to you about possibly contracting for some of these crops, how can you be found?
Well, we're only at the end of a telephone. Our local number is 336-759-7335 and of course, you can visit our website: www.techcrops.com or you contact them toll free: 1-877-780-5882.
(Photo: Canola combine, courtesy NCFB)