Valagro, the legacy company of Syngenta Biologicals - A History of the Hidden Champion in the Agri-Business Sector

This article was originally published in Italian in Panorama on 15th Aug 2023.

Please note that this is a courtesy translation of the Italian language article originally published in the Panorama Magazine Issue at:

Giuseppe Natale is a well recognised international businessman, as well as being the Co-Founder of Valagro, a leading global company specialized in the production and marketing of biostimulants and specialty nutrients for crop care and nutrition.


He was born and grew up in the town of Atessa, located in the Abruzzo region of Italy, with his extensive experience and profound knowledge in the agribusiness sector, Mr. Natale has played a pivotal role in shaping Valagro into the thriving organization it is today.


It was initial humble beginnings starting off as an entrepreneur in his early twenties as his family used to manage a business operating in the agriculture industry, but it was in 1980 when, together with Ottorino La Rocca, they founded the Farmer Italiana s.n.c., currently known throughout the world under the name of Valagro SpA.


In 2020 Valagro Group joined Syngenta Crop Protection and in 2023 the two companies created a joined-up team named Syngenta Biologicals to support growers with effective biologicals solutions, leveraging science-based innovation to offer more choices, flexibility, and sustainability in food production.


In his current role, Giuseppe Natale holds the position of Executive Director of the Board of Directors of Valagro SpA and he is President of the Syngenta Italia Board of Directors.


Throughout his career, Mr. Natale actively participated in industry associations and organizations (notably as Vice-President of Assofertilizzanti, Council member of Federchimica, Chairman of EBIC European Biostimulant Industry Council and Ambassador of IFA International Fertilizer Association (Paris), which includes 540 companies from 85 Countries, and member of IFA Strategic Advisory Team), contributing to the advancement of agricultural practices and sustainable development.


His dedication and contributions have earned him recognition as a dynamic leader in the agribusiness sector and a prime example of a modern business success story.



Q. Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself, including your educational background, professional career, and the journey that brought you to your current position?



I grew up in a rural area, where my family operated a business supplying agricultural inputs and supplies. Working alongside my father, even during my high school years and being attentive to the needs of the farmers, I quickly recognized the potential for innovation within the agricultural sector. It became evident that there was a demand for cutting-edge products focused on environmental sustainability. At the age of 20, I embarked on a journey as an entrepreneur, unknowingly embracing the spirit of a startup pioneer. Back in 1980, the term “startup” wasn't widely used, especially in the Val di Sangro area, where I operated. Throughout my life, my passions have always revolved around innovation, science, and nature. The driving force behind my endeavors has been the aspiration to make agriculture more sustainable.


Together with my partner, Ottorino La Rocca, we have consistently supported farmers seeking to enhance their performance while safeguarding the natural heritage entrusted to them. Our unwavering focus has been on making agriculture more productive while preserving the rich biodiversity found within the soil and within agriculture in general. To achieve this, we adopted a concept of utilizing raw materials in a circular manner, producing more sustainable agricultural products.


One of the pivotal decisions we made was to develop our products based on solid scientific foundations. Consequently, we have made significant investments in research and development, ensuring that our solutions meet the highest standards of quality. Overall, our journey has been guided by a deep commitment to creating a sustainable future for agriculture, intertwining innovation, nature, and scientific expertise.



Q. Could you provide us with an overview of Valagro, including your specific sector, focusing on what Valagro does & its presence in the Asian market?



Valagro was founded in 1980 and has since become a leading company specialized in the production and sale of bio-stimulants and specialty nutrients for plants worldwide. Our aim is to empower farmers with solutions that produce more and better food with limited impact on the environment, optimizing the use of resources, and maximize soil and plant health. The solutions we create are the result of innovative and thorough scientific research, that start from a deep knowledge of the raw materials we use, and end with field trials worldwide.


We have been active in the Asian market since early 2000, with the aim of supporting farmers, including both small and large scale farmers, facing the environmental and social challenges of food production, while appreciating their desire to farm profitability and sustainability. Our presence there includes one commercial subsidiary in China and a site in India made up of production and R&D facilities.


Q. What were the factors that led Valagro to invest in China, and how has the company's experience been in the country so far? Are there any success stories or specific business strategies that you can share with us regarding your company’s experience in China?


After we established our Indian site in 2015, we turned to China, where we opened our subsidiary in 2016. In China, the agricultural sector has undergone an impressive transformation towards modernity and productivity, that has made the market particularly receptive to innovation. As such, our aim was to establish our solutions in an important and rapidly growing market. Since then, our journey in China has seen excellent results – successes that we have been proud to see recognized at an official level, with the Corradino D’Ascanio award, which we proudly received in 2022. This prize honors companies that have succeeded in building business, innovation, and cultural relations between China and Abruzzo.



Q. It’s been well publicized that Valagro will be part of a much larger group moving forward, can you outline how this situation came to pass and Valagro’s plans for the future within this new dynamic?



In 2020 Valagro became part of Syngenta Crop Protection. This strategic choice was driven by the alignment between Syngenta’s business focus and Valagro’s mission and vision, with the aim to further strengthen our commitment in the field of biologicals (that is to say, bio-stimulants, biocontrol and bio-fertilizers) and offer farmers an even wider range of valuable options in sustainable crop management. The synergy between our two companies was formalized in July 2023 with the launch of Syngenta Biologicals, a brand that brings together the expertise in biologicals of both Valagro and Syngenta. We are excited about our future.



Q. Finally, what suggestions would you have for a young entrepreneur starting their journey in the international marketplace?



It's important to have strong values, and to uphold and protect them. Develop your own ethical code and believe in it. In our case, we strongly believed that what is good for the planet is also good for business. Next, focus on specializing in something. Gain expertise and credibility by delivering concrete and defendable results. This will help you stand out in a competitive market.

As you work towards success, strive to improve the status quo without seeking profits at the expense of the vulnerable or the environment. Be truly sustainable in your actions, not just in your words. This commitment will resonate with customers who share similar values. Cultivate an innovative mindset within your company. Surround yourself with individuals who can contribute value, culture, and experience. Remember, victories are achieved by teams, not by individuals alone.


And finally, be resilient and learn from both successes and failures. Every day should be an opportunity for personal and professional growth. If you have a solid foundation and remain dedicated to your goals, success will come in due time. I hope these suggestions help you on your entrepreneurial journey in the international marketplace. Good luck!