GRAMAX

GRAMAX: Improving pastures to promote a more sustainable livestock production

ArgentinaMalabrigo, Argentina
Year Founded:
2011
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

GRAMAX is a genetically enhance grass with higher nutritional quality that boosts livestock productivity and reduce the environmental footprint of the activity at the same time. Its higher digestibility allows an increase efficiency of animal feed and thus a reduction in GHG per Kilogram produced.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

WHAT IF INTENSIFICATION OF THE ANIMAL PRODUCTION COULD ACTUALLY CONTRIBUTE TO A REDUCTION OF CLIMATE CHANGE?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Cattle livestock production generates a huge environmental impact as it is. Today the biggest mitigation potential lies in those systems that are still operating with very low productivity – essencially tropical and subtropical areas – since they are inefficient at converting grass into meat or milk. As a result both ends of the value chain are affected: the producer has lower profits and the consumer gets animal products with environmental footp

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

GRAMAX is a genetically enhance grass with higher nutritional quality. Its main feature is a higher digestibility which allows the animals nutrition efficiency to increase. GRAMAX shows an average of 9% more digestibility compared to the regular specie. This could potentially translate into 28% boost in productivity and 50% less GHG emissions per kilogram of meat/milk produced.

Awards

NAVES – IAE; Santander Bank young entrepreneurs; MIT innovators under 35 Argentina+Uruguay; INNOVAR (Agroindustry)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Imagine you are a livestock producer from Paraguay. You have been operating a very efficient livestock production system based in natural grasslands. But you would like to finish your animal early in the cycle. So you are looking for a high nutritive feed while keeping your environmental impact at the lowest. You have to choose between any other cultivated pasture, grain supplements, chemical additives or GRAMAX - that could increase your productivity in +28% as well as reducing the environmental footprint of those extra kilograms by half (-50%). You don’t have to change anything in the way you already do your production and your costumers will be glad that your animal are still 100% grass based (the meat is healthier than feedlot systems).

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Nearly 50% of the cattle for livestock production is located in tropical and subtropical area (specially latin America and center America). It’s also were the highest potential for growth of this industry is and were the GHG like methane are most emitted. GRAMAX could potentially contribute to the developing countries economy while reducing the environmental impact of the industry. Right now it could boost the meat production to 15 Kg/Acre more and reduce by half methane emissions per each kilogram produced.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We are still developing the product. We just have started the field trial phase for the next 5 years. At the same time we will be developing all the knowledge necessary for GRAMAX to be a integral package solution for every tropical and subtropical area livestock producer. Also we area exploring other business models in which the seed is give out for free or a new certification for low methane productions, so as to increase the penetration of good practices and benefit responsible livestock producers.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our current business model consists on licensing the commercial exploitation of the new seed variety to seed companies around the world. Revenue comes in the form of royalties, a percentage of the seed company’s revenue. This income will allow us to continue to develop new technology (seed and other products like microbial consortia) that will help livestock producers in tropical areas be more efficient and thus reduce their environmental impact.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

From the producers side there are other options like: grain supplementation, dietary mixes, chemical additives, hormones that allows them to finish the animal faster and thus be more efficient. But the conscious consumer prefers more natural produce animals. So from the Consumers point of view there are brand certifications like “rain forest alliance” that allows them to recognize which products where obtain with practices responsible with the environment, and on the other hand meat or milk “immitaiting” products like the company Modern Meadow.
Team

Founding Story

We were doing the last subject for our graduate education - Agrobiotechnology –and we have to look for a problem and design a biotech idea that could potentially solve it. We started investigating for two hole months what were the challenges and problems that the Argentine agroindustry was facing. We discover that livestock production was mainly being done in tropical and subtropical areas in Argentina and Latin America and that the production was still far from its optimal point and that was causing a lot of environmental damage as well as costing a lot of money for the producer.

Team

We are a team of 3 biologists: 2 Founders and 1 associate, dedicated full time. We have been working together for the past 3 years. We know each other well so we work in a complementary way. In this first phase of the startup we achieve a lot and we are proud of it. The next phase requires strong commercial background so we are looking to add a new member more experience in this sense.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

a friend of mine

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

co founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

As a young girl I learn how to do my own clothes. Then I started my own brand and I quickly start selling hand made clothes for my customers. Also I have always been curious to learn new things so I tough myself how to do a web page and design in photoshop and with that skills I contribute to the biochemistry week in my university. Now, In my spare time I cultivate cacti and succulents for my mom to sell, and for that I give courses and teach people how to do it.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We are a team of 3 biologist devoted to the project (partners). Also we work side by side with researchers from the faculty of agronomy of Universidad de buenos Aires, who have expertise on the field. We have an strategic alliance with AACREA - a group of agriculture producers that test and evaluates new techonologies and have a close connection with livestock producers. We have a board of advisors that give us advice in technology transfer, business, agribusiness and R+D of pastures.