Introduction: In this compelling interview, we sit down with Arnaud LACOURT, CEO of UBEES, a driving force in the realm of regenerative agriculture and beekeeping. His role within the company involves leading the change in developing actionable solutions for blue chip customers to adopt regenerative practices by 2030. As bees hold a critical role in pollinating our food supply, Arnaud highlights the urgency to act. Through this interview, we delve into his journey, understanding of regenerative agriculture, and his vision for a sustainable farming future.
Can you describe your role within the company and what you see as your main responsibilities?
Answer: "My primary responsibility is to lead our team in developing an actionable solution for our global brands' customers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices by 2030.
With bees being essential to pollinating one-third of our food supply, the urgency to act is high as 2030 is rapidly approaching. Unfortunately, Europe has already lost 70% of its bee population, and it is imperative that we work towards reintegrating bees into every farm worldwide. In the past, our grandparents kept honey bees on their farms to ensure food subsistence, but over the last 70 years, this practice has declined. By collaborating with global brands, we aim to reverse this trend within the next 10 years. Our goal is to create a product that is affordable, easy to implement, and scalable on a global level."
How did you get involved with the company and what drew you to the industry?
Answer: "I've spent around 20 years in the tech industry, accumulating valuable experience in managing high-growth businesses. But one day. I came to the realization that I wanted to focus my efforts on addressing the numerous challenges that the world is facing as we transition to a more sustainable economy. It was during this time that I had the good fortune of meeting some exceptional beekeepers who introduced me to the incredible world of bees. Once you've had the opportunity to work with bees, you quickly realize how fascinating they are. Bees are a remarkable collective super-organism that can make cooperative decisions, dedicate themselves to their community, and adapt to complex situations with ease. Not only that, but they are also one of the few examples of positive economic externalities - they have a positive impact on their environment. Working with bees has become a true passion of mine, and my enthusiasm for these creatures continues to grow with each passing day."
Can you describe your understanding of regenerative agriculture and how it relates to beekeeping?
Answer: "Well, there are many complicated technical explanations out there but to me, Regenerative Agriculture simply means returning to the way things were before we attempted to control and transform it into monoculture. It's time to face the limitations of monoculture and get back to reality. Some of the key principles of Regenerative Agriculture can be to:
Allow the soil to regenerate itself without the use of harmful chemicals by growing complementary crops like cover crops and polyculture.
Increase farm resilience against climate change by planting trees, hedges, and cover crops to combat extreme weather events like droughts and floods.
Implement bees on your farm to naturally reproduce your system and boost yields, reducing the need for agrochemicals.
Ultimately, this approach leads to a reduced carbon footprint for your farm. While carbon reduction is not the primary goal, it is a positive consequence of restored Regenerative Agriculture."
How do you see the market for regenerative agriculture services evolving in the next few years, and what opportunities do you see for our company?
Answer: "Our target market will be premium brands that are compelled to follow the path of Regenerative Agriculture due to demands from shareholders, customers, employees, and farmers who are seeking Regenerative products at a reasonable cost.
In the next phase, this trend will expand to cover all market segments, including mass markets, due to regulations (such as the deforestation regulations in Europe by January 2024) and retailers' inclination to have their private label products aligned with the Regenerative trend. Eventually, Regenerative products will become affordable."
How do you plan to measure the success of our clients' transition to regenerative agriculture? What metrics will you use to track progress and communicate results to stakeholders?
Answer: "The transition to Regenerative Agriculture may take several years for each farm, but the most important thing is to start. Initially, we aim for a certain percentage of farms to begin the transition process, with the ultimate goal of achieving 100% transition by 2030. We will measure our progress through key performance indicators such as carbon footprint, as achieving net-zero emissions requires a shift to Regenerative Agriculture practices. We will also track the number of farms who are still in business, as the World Bank estimated that 500 million farmers around the world are currently at risk of financial instability. By keeping these farmers in business, we can consider our transition to Regenerative Agriculture a success."
Conclusion: In this enlightening conversation, Arnaud shares his transition from the tech industry to a focus on sustainability. His passion for bees and his extraordinary abilities become evident as he emphasizes the importance of incorporating them back into our farming practices. Arnaud defines regenerative agriculture as a return to more diverse and natural farming methods, promoting soil regeneration, climate resilience, and the integration of bees.
Urgency for Regenerative Agriculture: Arnaud emphasizes the urgent need to adopt regenerative agriculture practices, particularly in relation to the declining bee populations and their vital role in pollinating our food supply. Taking immediate action to reintegrate bees into farming practices with the help of global brands is crucial for the health of our food ecosystem.
Benefits of Regenerative Agriculture: Arnaud highlights the transformative power of regenerative agriculture, showcasing its ability to promote soil regeneration, climate resilience, and biodiversity. By implementing regenerative practices and integrating bees into global brands' supply chains, we can reduce chemical use, enhance farm resilience, and naturally boost yields.
Market Opportunities and Success Metrics: Arnaud discusses the growing market demand for regenerative agriculture services, with potential for expansion to premium and mass markets. The interview also emphasizes the importance of measuring success through metrics such as carbon footprint reduction and the financial stability of farmers, demonstrating the positive impact of regenerative practices to stakeholders.