Helping the African agri-food sector to develop not only requires strong varieties and knowledge transfer, but also plenty of patience. Eventually, however, improvements in the varieties, growing techniques and sales opportunities will enable small-scale local growers to generate a better income for themselves. Their communities will subsequently benefit too, both from healthy vegetables and a boost to the local economy. Only then will vegetable chains start to become truly sustainable.
More than varieties alone
To be successful, African growers require more than good varieties alone. In fact, that’s just the start there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of growing techniques too. Because growers can benefit from better technical knowledge, Rijk Zwaan invests a lot of time and energy in knowledge transfer. We regularly organise demos at RZ Afrisem, for instance, and visit growers at their own facilities to provide them with tailor-made advice. We also actively seek collaboration with government bodies, local growers’ associations and knowledge institutes, and we are happy to share our knowledge and expertise for planning projects to improve sales infrastructure, for example.
Until recently, virtually no vegetable varieties were being developed specifically for African growers. However, RZ Afrisem is now changing all that by breeding ‘hybrid varieties’. Among other things, these types are characterised by offering a higher yield and better resistances to diseases than the varieties traditionally grown in tropical Africa. The first hybrids of African aubergine are currently being propagated and tested in preparation for market launch in 2014.
We share Abel's dream of fulfilling Africa’s potential for vegetable production
Sharing a healthy future
Rijk Zwaan established RZ Afrisem in 2008. There, together with fellow breeding company East West Seeds, Rijk Zwaan develops varieties especially for the African market. This offers local farmers and growers a better chance of building a sustainable livelihood.
of fulfilling Africa’s potential for vegetable production