The benefits of accepting a world class agro-chemical company in a developing country are numerous and valuable. Apart from the job opportunities created and the professional skills that are gained, it also plays an important role to improve agriculture. Syngenta is such a company, and under the banner of “Improving Agriculture Together”, Syngenta purchased MRI Seed Zambia Ltd, a leading developer, producer and distributor of white maize seed in Zambia in 2013.
MRI Seed was a local Zambian family business. “The founder was the breeder while his son handled the commercial side,” Mark Stokes, Head of Marketing in Zambia, says. “Our founder was one of the most experienced maize breeders in Africa. He came from Eastern Europe and over his career he was able to collect genetic material from all over the world to breed cultivars specifically for Zambian conditions, which included focusing on small scale farmers and their needs. In Zambia, maize is almost exclusively produced by small scale farmers.”
Mark also says Zambia differs very much from South Africa. “With maize being the national staple food commodity prices are often manupilated making it a difficult crop for commercial farmers to grow profitably.”
With the arrival of Syngenta came many new opportunities. “We have huge strengths in many areas, and we are always looking for ways to improve our products and services. One of these improvements was the acquisition of MRI Seed’s breeding programme for white maize for Zambia. We are very proud that this acquisition places such high value on Zambian seed technology and our local professional staff and their experience and expertise in small scale farmer value chains,” adds Mark.
“We have a very strong value proposition for farmers in Africa. With Syngenta MRI we do not only offer superb seed, but also world-leading crop protection technology. This adds a great deal of value to our local business to the benefit of our farmers and agriculture in Zambia.” Syngenta MRI goes through every level of the process from research and development to sales and marketing. They off er white as well as yellow maize. The yellow maize is not as popular in Zambia as in South Africa, but this only means there is ample room for growth. Syngenta MRI have also developed their own soy bean seed especially for Zambia. “It is very tolerant to drought, has excellent shattering tolerance and is less prone to lodging and deliveries strongly on yield. This give us a big advantage over our competitors,” Mark says.
Agri Technovation supports Syngenta
Agri Technovation are crop experts that help farmers to determine where they make their money and where their losses are. They take no service away from any company, but supports Syngenta MRI by rendering a service to farmers and helping them to manage their farms.
“The managing part is the hardest,” Jaques Landman from Agri Technovation says. “If you apply too much fertilizer, you are wasting money; and if you apply too little fertilizer, you are forfeiting yields and thus income. Agri Technovation makes accurate fertilizer recommendations for farmers based on leaf sample analysis.”
They also help the farmer by advising them on the cultivars suitable for their soil, and precisely where they can plant it and where not. They know what maize needs. Agri Technovation offers very extensive software, enabling a farmer to see aerial production maps of their farms on the internet.
Improved fungicides for better yields on wheat, maize and soybean
Further good news for farmers battling against septoria, rust and powdery mildew is that Syngenta MRI recently launched a new product, called Elatus Arc, to combat these diseases. Mark says that this product had fantastic success in South America and Europe.
“We are very proud that we are the first country in Africa to introduce this effective product.” The benefits that Elatus Arc brings to farmers are numerous, but include quick and long lasting control and reduced spray costs.