Brazilian farmers approach to digital: Tapping into farmer mindsets

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How are Brazilian farmers thinking about the future of agriculture in their country? For one, they are becoming increasingly transactional. Eighty-seven percent of Brazilian farmers value price and quality and performance above all other attributes, including brand, a McKinsey survey found. And only 9 percent of farmers under 35 years old consider brand the most important attribute when purchasing inputs compared with 20 percent of those over 65 years old. As for how they make investment decisions, 50 percent said they were influenced by family, friends, and neighboring farmers. McKinsey recently interviewed more than 750 Brazilian farmers in 11 states about their views on the use of digital technologies in agriculture and to better understand farmers’ mind-sets and the farmer decision journey, from harvest planning to input purchasing to machinery acquisition. The survey results could help inform the go-to-market strategies of input and machinery suppliers, trading companies, financial institutions, and technology provider, among others.

In the Brazilian Midwest, almost two-thirds of farmers are under 45 years old, the survey found. These younger farmers are often better educated and more open to digital and other new technologies than their older counterparts. For example, early adopters of precision agriculture, such as drones and variable rate applications, tend to be younger, own large property, and are located in the Matopiba region (the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, PIauí, and Bahia), but lack of understanding about how to use new technology is holding back further adoption.