Smart Farmer: Vicente Bissoni

Vicente Bissoni is the Financial Director of his family business, Botuverá Group. With extensive agricultural and transportation interests in Brazil, he believes the group's diversification and growth are rooted in its strong governance structure.

The Botuverá Group was founded as a transport company in 1975 in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. The group expanded into agriculture in the late 1990s, but has always maintained the same values.

“We have run an honest, transparent and effective business for over 40 years. Reputation is something that takes decades to build and we are proud to have strong values based on the hard work and principles of the Botuverá family,” says Vicente Bissoni Neto, the Group's Financial Director. Bissoni holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but decided to join the Botuverá Group, which was started by his grandmother, father and uncles in the 1970s.

Going places

Sustainably speaking

“We aren't motivated by immediate profit or rapid expansion. From the fertilization of the soil to the operation of the trucks, our focus is on building a robust company for future generations. We have a structured growth strategy in place to ensure we expand sustainably. We want to build a healthy and increasingly attractive work environment for our employees and family members for the years and decades to come.

“We are never motivated by immediate profit”

- Vicente Bissoni, Financial Director, Botuverá Group

“Sound governance is fundamental to building sustainable businesses, including farms. Agriculture is rooted in family. Research has shown that family businesses are usually more efficient and profitable than other business structures. However, an effective organization and set of controls are necessary to manage them professionally. We were fortunate to have visionary founders at Botuverá who understood the importance of governance and succession planning, and put strategies in place to safeguard our future," says Bissoni.

Early days on the farm

Keeping it in the family

Five of the first generation partners still work for the group and four hold management positions, but have defined succession plans in place. Eight members of the second generation work in different departments within Botuverá alongside the group's 600 employees and ensure the family's values are deeply embedded in the group.

“The integration works because we have strong governance in place”

- Vicente Bissoni, Financial Director, Botuverá Group

That strong structure has made it possible for the Bissonis to integrate a diverse range of businesses into the group. Today, it comprises 35,000 hectares of soy and corn and 7,000 head of cattle, as well as a fleet of 180 trucks and 17 branches throughout Brazil. Storage, transportation and the sale of agricultural products are all managed centrally. “The integration works because we have well-structured governance in place,” says Bissoni. “Being diversified provides many opportunities as well as protection in times of crisis.”

Harvest before the storm

Making the most out of a crisis

Speaking of crisis, Bissoni points out that Brazil has faced enormous challenges recently. “We've had to deal with exchange rate fluctuations, sharp price rises, lack of credit and skepticism. But challenges are also opportunities. For example, as other companies collapsed or shrank, we expanded our operations.”

For Bissoni, unpredictability is one of the best things about working with agriculture. The constant change means whoever is in charge of the business must be prepared for anything. "Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst," he says. “In F&A we are continually faced with adversities including climate issues, market volatility, and new rules and regulations. We need to innovate and reinvent ourselves constantly.”

Bissoni has a bit of advice for those who wish to pursue a career in agriculture: “Believe in your strengths and don’t be afraid of hard work. Agriculture is an activity that grows thanks to the presence of the owners, family members, and employees who unite as a family to achieve continuous improvement.”

Vicente Bissoni has spoken on the importance of strong governance in agribusiness at Rabobank's Global Farmers Master Classes. Click here to find out more.