Sunoko opened the first Research and Development Center
Interview with Slobodan Košutić, Director of Sunoko, on the occasion of the opening of the Research and Development Center for Sugar Beet
Sunoko, a member of MK Group, has opened its Research and Development Center, the first private center of its kind in the field of agriculture in Serbia. Scientists and technologists will work on solutions to get as much sugar beet production as possible, in line with the latest scientific research and guidelines for good agricultural practice. On that occasion, we talked with Slobodan Košutić, the Director of the Sunoko Company.
- A Research and Development Center for sugar beet has been opened, what is its main purpose? Where did the idea come from to establish it?
Sunoko decided to intensify efforts to ensure continuous education of producers and to form a research center for sugar beet, which will deal with applied research in the technology of production of this precious field crop. The Company Sunoko and our farmers have a huge knowledge and experience that we used to raise our sugar beet production above the average production in Serbia. We see great potential in this branch of agriculture and we are ready to invest, not only in our partners, but also to share this knowledge with all those who want to increase yields on their beet fields. For this purpose, we have opened a Research Center that will deal with applied research in sugar beet production technology, equipped with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and machinery, in which the most professional staff will allow us to apply the results of research results with the help of Sunoko agricultural service in our fields.
- A big sugar beet processing campaign is underway, are you satisfied with the results?
In this year’s campaign, all three “Sunoko’s” sugar factories – in Vrbas, Pećinci and Kovačica, are working in optimal capacity, and it is expected that 250,000 tons of sugar will be produced during the campaign, which is more than a good season despite all the challenges. Despite the circumstances during March and April, 28,300 ha of sugar beet were sown for our sugar factories, and during the beet processing campaign itself, we achieved above-average results. Our goal is to achieve an average of 10 tons of sugar / ha next year, which we have already managed to transfer this year to producers who have followed our production technology.
- The Chamber of Commerce of Serbia launched the project “Created in Serbia” and created the label “Čuvarkuća (Common Houseleek) ” and Sunoko is one of the winners of the trademark. What does this award mean for the Company?
- Over the past months, we have witnessed an increased demand for basic foodstuffs. How did that affect the business of the Sunoko Company and in general the way of working in sugar factories?
Preparations for the campaign, i.e. overhauls of processing capacities and investments in all three production centers of the Sunoko Company, despite the current situation with the Covid-19 virus pandemic, were done within the planned deadlines. The highest prevention measures have been taken in order to protect the health and safety of workers and to ensure the smooth running of production processes during the sugar beet processing campaign. Our imperative is to be a reliable regional supplier of one of the basic foodstuffs in all circumstances.
- We are witnessing that more and more jobs and processes are being digitized and automated. To what extent is digitalization applicable to your industry?
With good organization and education conducted by the team of our raw materials sector under the auspices of the Research and Development Center Sunoko, we managed to improve, together with our producers, above all, protection against leaf diseases. We are actively working on the digitization of the process, and this year in the Kovačica Production Center we are testing the E-delivery note application, which will enable the complete digitization of documentation in the process of sugar beet delivery. In that way, the largest sugar producer in Serbia will be ready for the period in which, as announced by the State, the legislation will enable the full use of electronic documents.
- What are your plans for exports?
Sunoko, with its three production centers, is the most efficient sugar producer in Southeast Europe with an annual export of 150,000 tons. Export markets are for the most part countries in the region, bearing in mind the Company’s goal of achieving a leading position in the Balkans. For now, everything is going according to plan and we hope that the sugar market will remain stable.