The migration of people around the world is always associated with progress. In many cases, immigrants turn into the force that drives economies, but sometimes hard work is accompanied by creativeness and determination. This is the case of Jacto, a company born in Brazil six decades ago that aided in agricultural development. Luis Miranda reports.
Shunji Nishimura came to Brazil in the early years of the 20th century together with thousands of other Japanese immigrants who looked for a new place to nurture their dreams. As many other famous inventors, scientists, and civil leaders, Nishimura is now called son on two different continents and is perhaps more recognized away from his native Japan. In an era in which agriculture was a manual affair and the land was harvested through the work of both men and domesticated animals, the creation of the first knapsack manual duster changed the way Brazilians took care of their crops.
The JACTO group came into existence in the 1930s at a small mechanical workshop in the town of Pompeia, Sao Paulo. The shop, employing only three workers, began producing dusters with an innovative two-way movement that allowed continuous flow of the product that was being applied to the plantations. The success of Nishimura’s invention was felt soon enough, and the small business produced 30 dusters in its first year. The knapsack duster was patented in 1948, although the company was officially established only in November of 1949.
THE DUSTER REVOLUTION
The massive acceptance the dusters had among farmers and their effectiveness in assisting in the manual fertilization of the land prompted Indústria e Máquinas Agricolas JACTO Ltda to employ its technology to be used in more ways and with other agricultural tools. The dusters then evolved into lighter, more efficient instruments, which led to the invention of the first tractor mounted duster. The new design made the farmers’ work not only faster, but also lighter. The new application was optimum for large fields that needed massive amounts of fertilizer to be kept productive. Later, in 1966, the company turned the corner once again by incorporating a plastic tank that made the duster unit lighter and easier to be handled by the workers. It also made it more reliable when applying insecticides mixed with water. All in all, the knapsack duster business grew and advanced with the country’s agricultural model and industry.
As if the progress achieved until then was not enough, JACTO began a new adventure in the manufacture of agricultural equipment. A new tractor-mounted coffee harvester made its debut after six years of research and development. The K3, as it was called, was a leap in innovation. At a time when the Brazilian market continued to expand, the search for mechanized goods also experienced exponential growth. JACTO once again seized the opportunity by offering products designed for both the small and large scaled farmer.
In 1993, the company developed the Columbia Vortex System, which included air-assisted technology to minimize the amount of fertilizer or herbicide used per application and the amount of it that drifted from the spraying point. The new MasterFlow control allowed the operator to maintain a constant amount flowing from the sprayer regardless of changes in speed or direction. In 1995 JACTO introduced the new intelligent sprayer with an electronic detecting device, developed to avoid excesses in the application of chemicals. The machine was programmed to sense the presence of a plant, to release the product, and, conversely, to avoid spraying when there wasn’t a plant nearby.
The coffee harvesting machine made a comeback in 1997 as JACTO offered a new unit designed for smaller plantations. The product offered the same advantages than the larger K3, grabbing the coffee beans from the branches and collecting these in sacks to be taken to the processing centers. Just a year later the new JSC 4000 relaunched the company into electronically controlled sprayers. With this new technology, the operator only needed to input the amount of chemical he wanted to apply and the machine would take care of the rest. In addition, the sprayer turned in feedback regarding the area covered and the time it took to carry out the task. As was expected, the new spraying equipment was adapted to tractors and equipped with hydraulic arms and booms to improve the application quality.
As the company grew larger, new divisions were added. As a result, JACTO diversified its products even more. In 1995, the giant introduced the first electric car and named it Eletro. The car was commercialized for the transportation of people and cargo, and it soon found homes at airports, golf courses, soccer stadiums, shopping centers and condominiums. Its main advantage was the fact that a single charge allowed the car to roll for a whole day of work, and enabled it to carry loads of up to 900 kilograms at the time. Along with the electric cars came the commercial washers, which consisted of pressurized pumps with enough power to be used to wash cars, buses, fuel stations and buildings.
THE RIGHT PRODUCT WITH THE RIGHT SUPPORT
Part of JACTO’s fame came from producing equipment that revolutionized the agricultural and industrial businesses and along with that, providing a complementary support system that rounded out the company’s philosophy to meet the customer’s needs and to stand by them all the way, all the time.
JACTO further established a nationwide line of dealers and in each of those offices, a group of trained professionals offered the support anyone who bought a duster, a sprayer or a coffee collector would need. Attention was not only paid to providing components and parts for the equipment, but also to helping customers with repairs or advice on how to use the units to obtain the best performance and result in the fields.
Those technicians who took care of the clients’ needs attended year-long training courses, which gave them detailed knowledge of the way the equipment worked. According to Marketing Director Pedro Bastos, the trainees receive theoretical and practical instruction related to the operation, calibration and maintenance.
“We make sure our workers know how the machines are supposed to perform according to their use, model, operation environment and which parts or components need to be checked when they are brought in for service. Our field experience shows that adequate product knowledge is fundamental to get the best results from our equipment, and this is our main objective.”
JACTO’S OTHER BRANCHES
JACTO has come a long way for a company that began in a small shop with only three workers. The company not only managed to grow as an agricultural equipment provider, but also expanded into areas related to its original line of business. In 1963, MultiJacto opened its doors in Argentina, which allowed for the export of dusters, sprayers, coffee collectors, cars and washers. The second branch in the family came with the creation of UNIPAC, the division that allowed JACTO to produce dusters and sprayers using plastic as supposed to metal. The change brought great advantages to the business not only because it allowed for larger units, but also because it met higher standards of durability. By utilizing plastic, the company offered new products like tanks to carry fuel with capacities between 100 to 400 liters. UNIPAC also turned its attention to the processing of resins, manufacturing products related to the medical field including items like gloves, blood bags and parts for artificial respirators.
A third division was born in the JACTO group; this time it was dedicated to the treatment of waste products. Mizumo offers not only containers for the storage of sewage, but also a complete program to treat industrial waste products as well as a system to remove and transfer materials to be recycled or processed without damaging the environment. Its environmentally friendly initiatives also advocate for a reduction in industrial emissions and a sense of respect for Mother Nature.
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
In 1979 Nishimura completed another important project: He began to invest time and resources in the formation of young people who were trained to work in the agricultural business.
According to Director of Marketing Pedro Bastos, the method of teaching is very different as the company seeks to awaken the student’s critical thinking ability.
“Our educators stimulate the developmental capacity of the students through experience and experimentation. They also have it as a goal to communicate with the students in a way that spurs their reasoning and critical vision. All this with the adequate pedagogical guidance guarantees that, upon the completion of the program, the student has learned and is able to apply that knowledge for his benefit. That is an important differential,” asserts Bastos.
But even after realizing that dream, Nishimura didn’t seem satisfied. He then decided to create the Fundação Shunji Nishimura de Tecnologia (FSNT) and opened several technical elementary and middle schools.
With a complete range of products that span from manual knapsack dusters to self-propelled sprayers and washers, JACTO Group continues to influence the industry with the same respect and attention to detail that characterized its rise to the top.