Toward agriculture 4.0: opportunities and threats of the agribusiness sector: an analysis of the risk management strategies developed by Brazilian SMEs to cope with commodity price risk

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2019-12-13
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Prado Junior, Servio Tulio
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This paper aims at demonstrating the importance of the adoption of risk management strategies by companies operating in the agribusiness sector. The future evolution of the sector requires the change of operations and the digital advancement of agribusiness enterprises. The latter must put in place some risk management mechanisms to cope with the different risks faced in order to capture the necessary capital on the financial markets to update their operations. Qualitative interviews, conducted with investment managers from different Brazilian financial institutions, highlighted that the most important risk faced by enterprises operating in agriculture is the so-called commodity price risk. Futures, storage, insurances and vertical integration are the most common strategies implemented by companies to limit the volatility of revenues and profit. Through the literature review and empirical analyses, the paper will examine the efficacy of these four strategies on Brazilian agribusiness small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The analyses show that all the four strategies at firm-level present some drawbacks, which negatively affect their use and efficacy. While for large size enterprises futures are an effective hedging strategy, SMEs face problems in the use of these financial instruments due to their high cost, their time of maturity, the required quality of the underlying assets and the delivery location. Moreover, while according to N. Scott volatility reduces along the stages of agricultural value chains, this research shows that this phenomenon is true only for some industries and so vertical integration does not always bring benefits and reduce price volatility. In the following years, risk management strategies and financial instruments should evolve with the purpose of facilitating the advancement of the agribusiness sector. Finally, Brazilian government should consider taking an active role in limiting the overall risk exposure of SMEs operating in the primary sector. By developing national protection mechanisms in favor of farmers, Brazil could help close the food demand gap, boost its GDP and limit hunger in the world.


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