Do you speak “agro”?

Providing translation services for a complex sector like agriculture might be tricky and difficult for agencies without specialised translators and proper terminology databases. Before joining the language services industry, for many years I had worked for agricultural companies.

Challenges of translation in agriculture and in agro-industry

Providing translation services for a complex sector like agriculture might be tricky and difficult for agencies without specialised translators and proper terminology databases. Before joining the language services industry, for many years I had worked for agricultural companies. Recently I’ve contacted my old colleagues and managers to get to know more about their personal experiences about translation and interpretation services: what challenges they have to face and what expectations they have in terms of agro-translations.
Here is a summary of what I have learned about their insights, needs and expectations:

Translating agriculture-related texts is not only about perfect language knowledge, it requires complex knowledge of different fields

“We have to comply with all legal and registration standards – follow strict timelines, use digital forms in different file formats in different languages.”
EMEA registration manager of a crop protection company

“Mutual recognition, REACH, ECHA, DG SANCO (DG SANTE), BVL, CTGB, ANSES, bio-dossiers, ANNEX1, trial reports, SDS, label, SPC. I’m responsible for 23 countries… this means almost two dozen languages. Give me someone who can simplify my work.”
Registration and field trial coordinator, EMEA

Authorisation documents for placing products on the market and using them, product labels, safety data sheets, product leaflets, or online product databases, etc. should follow a common jargon that complies with all the rules and should follow the local professional vocabulary…when the translation of these docs are split between different translation agencies, it usually ends up in ‘word-chaos’.”
Product manager for field crop pesticides

Translating agricultural-related documents encompasses a specialised language combining biology, chemicals, or life sciences, as well as the registration information needed for trading in different countries, and legislation knowledge required for the contracts, statements and permits necessary to move products to market. Materials are provided in different file formats and are handed-in/provided on different platforms.

Local translators specialised in agriculture – is it a myth?

“It’s crucial to choose competent interpreters when you organise an international conference or multilingual field events in the agriculture industry. I wish I could work with a specialised language service agency that can provide us with translation experts for all EMEA languages…Native agro translation professionals wanted. “
Regional PR and Event manager at an market-leading agro-machinery company

“If our promotional texts in brochures or our websites uses the wrong local terminology, the farmers think we don’t understand the market and their needs…we make them laugh instead of make them believe our messages and buy.”
Communication expert at a seed breeding company

Field crops and horticulture, animal nutrition, fertilisers and pesticides production, pest control, chemical or biological crop protection, seed and plant breeding – so many fields, so many special terms. Translators or interpreters should have the know-how in each particular field and they have to be experts in the terminology of the sector as there is no room for translation error.

Some of my former colleagues have highlighted that long-term cooperation with a specialised translation partner allows them to build a terminology database for technical jargon for processes, weeds, diseases, species, machine parts, and accessories, – it’s a huge help. When they can find a confident interpreter for a language pair, they call him/her regularly for onsite or online meetings or events.

In global or regional positions the key challenge is to find a trustworthy and professional service provider with multilingual solutions – it’s a lot easier to find an agro-translation expert for traditional language pairs like English-German, or English-French, than someone (a native speaker!) who translates from Croatian to Spanish, or Polish to Chinese.

Translation or adaptation?

Product presentations, landing pages or brand videos are usually created in English by our global marketing team. The local versions (text translations, subtitles, voiceovers) are passed to global advertising agencies…when I get the translated version for a final check I usually have to re-translate every fifth sentence because end-users might misunderstand the messages due to the wrong expressions or non-agro-related wording.”
Marketing coordinator at a fertiliser distribution company

In the case of sales or marketing texts, translation may not be the right service. Messages need to be adapted not only to the language but also to the social needs of local customers. Cultural context, local agro traditions and practices and associations can be the key to local business success.

When it comes to translation in the agricultural sector, it’s best to surround yourself with specialists. Working with a specialised agency means that you do not need to find one single translator who knows all these fields like the back of his or her hand. You can have your pool of local translators with language experts in each field and for all target languages. Long-term cooperation with the right translation partner allows you to build a terminology database to make your communication more consistent, whether it is translated documents or interpretation at an online event.

Maybe you have your regular translator for English-to-German label translations. But what about the remaining 22 languages of the European Union? What if it’s a sales brochure, and requires layout work as well? And how about less common language pairs like Croatian-to-Spanish or Polish-to-Chinese? Challenges for you, regular business for us… A professional translation agency with many satisfied partners from the agro-sector can make your daily work easier and can contribute to your business success.

Finding one agency to cover all the countries your organisation operates in is not a myth! 😊 Feel free to contact us via our website form or at and our colleagues will be happy to assist you.

Written by Csilla Dömötör, marketing communication manager, Eurideas Language Experts