Syngenta opens Africa’s first Seedcare facility

The Africa’s first ever Seedcare Institute in the town of Brits in the North West Province has been launched by Syngenta and is the 11th research development facility from the Institute. The facility looks to use a range of Syngenta technologies that protects and enhances the performance of field crop, vegetable and ornamental seeds to improve yields across the continent.Marc Bonfils, EAME Seedcare Technology Lead, says the South African facility is a strategic fit with Syngenta’s emerging market focus and its sustainable growth objectives. “Syngenta announced two years ago that it would invest $500m
(R65,5 trillion) in Africa to advance food security. From the Brits facility we can provide support to growers in South Africa and across the continent. In addition, the African headquarters of all our many seed company customers, such as Monsanto, Pioneer, Pannar, and SeedCo are all located in South Africa area. It just makes sense for Syngenta to make our expertise more readily available to them.”
In Syngenta language, Seedcare refers to a portfolio of Syngenta technologies that protects and enhances the performance of field crop, vegetable and ornamental seeds. The portfolio also contains products that stimulate growth and protect emerging crops from environmental stresses, such as drought, flooding or cold, and help the seedlings to process nutrients and water more efficiently. Seeds treated include corn, sunflower, and cereals such as wheat, soy and vegetables.Located at Syngenta’s formulation,fill and packaging (FF&P) plant in Brits, the Africa Middle East (AME) Seedcare Institute started operating at the end of April last year. According to Wayne van Rensburg, AME technology manager Seedcare, the development of seed treatment application recipes and their test on seed are services offered by Syngenta to its partners. Says van Rensburg: “Our work here is to set up the best local application quality of the active ingredients developed at the Global Institute in Switzerland, given our customers’ specific requirements.
The facility’ services include seed safety testing, seed preparations for trials, the analysis of treated seeds, recipe development and application and plant ability testing.” Previously, all seed tests had to be done in Switzerland. The opening of the local facility now places that expertise at the fingertips of the South African, African and Middle Eastern agricultural industries. By improving yield across the continent by just one ton per hectare, Africa can produce enough maize to feed its population.
The best way of achieving this is to start at the beginning – by planting the best possible seed.
The South African facility forms part of Syngenta’s Global Seedcare Institute Network that currently consists of the Global Seedcare Institute in Stein, Switzerland, and 10 other services centres across the globe (USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Hungary,Ukraine, China AND South Africa). Furthermore the group is planning to open its second African seed-treatment institute in Kenya in 2016 and plans to expand in the continent’s western nations in the next five years. Abraham Vermeulen, the company’s head of corn,sugar and diverse field crops in the region says Kenya is one of the biggest seeds markets in Africa, “Kenya is the second biggest seeds market in Africa. We will be expanding to West African countries, most probably Nigeria, in the longer term. We must remember that a farmer who does not have seed-care protection on his plant will likely lose half of his harvest so equipping them will definitely be beneficial.”
Antonie Delport, MD of Syngenta South Africa, points out that the direct treatment of seed has been proven to be the best way to improve plant growth, prevent damage caused by pathogens and pests, and achieve higher yields. “Seeds are the foundation of the world’s food supply,” he adds. “Our seed specialists work with small holder and large commercial growers, as well as seed companies, to develop applications that mitigate risks and improve yields.
Faced with the growing challenge of producing more food with less resources and increasing concern for the environment, growers need the best quality seed possible.”
Seed treatment is the fastest growing segment of the global crop protection market and is expected to reach $4, 5bn (R58,8bn) by 2018. Responding to growing customer demand, Syngenta plans to open Seedcare institutes in Singapore and Mexico, and another five in other parts of the world in 2016.
Syngenta South Africa Tel: +27 11 541 4000;www3.syngenta.com