Africa regional technology center puts cutting-edge tech in farmers’ reach

The international seed and agricultural products group DuPont recently opened a new technology center with the largest privately-owned insectarium in Africa, near the town of Delmas in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The company says the center will accelerate new product development across various crops for farmers and assist in helping the continent’s farmers achieve greater yields, realizing Africa’s agricultural potential.

“The global network of research facilities and testing locations demonstrate DuPont’s ongoing commitment to research and development to accelerate seed product development for African farmers, helping them better manage pests and crop disease, climate volatility and soil fertility,” said Alejandro Munoz, vice president, Global Commercial Business at DuPont Pioneer.

DuPont invested R100 million in the Africa technology center, which employs African scientists and skilled technicians to support local research efforts, across testing locations in South Africa and for the continent.

This investment in research and development in Africa includes:

  • The Delmas technology center, which focuses on major Eastern region research activities, with breeding programs in maize and sunflowers. These programmes also incorporate key Pioneer and Pannar research and testing locations, combined germplasm, talent and experience to improve cultivar breeding and development for Africa.
  • A multi-crop research center in Hoogekraal, in the North West province of South Africa, that will conduct multi-crop research for DuPont Pioneer and Pannar with a focus on drought tolerance.
  • Africa’s biggest private insectarium, which is critical to the development of traits to combat local yield-robbing pests, some of which are unique to the continent.
  • Training and education opportunities for staff and academic institutions every year to host a plant breeding symposium to foster research skills, development and to work with smallholder farmers to improve the livelihoods of families in rural communities.
One of the features of the technology center is the insectarium. Various pests will be bred, reared and studied in this facility with the aim of finding better solutions in breeding more insect tolerant crops.

DuPont has similar technology centers in the US, Brazil, India and China as part of the company’s global research network.

Delmas will serve as the central hub of the Africa regional technology center, which is comprised of a network of existing research facilities and testing locations throughout Africa.

“Better-performing seed products will lead to greater yields for farmers, including smallholder farmers and will help enhance farm productivity.

“Africa has untapped potential to boost its agricultural output if the continent increases investment in agricultural research and development to adapt global technology to local needs,” said Prabdeep Bajwa, regional director for DuPont’s agricultural business in Africa and the Middle East.

Bajwa said Africa has nearly 35 million hectares of arable land, with grain yields of less than 2 tons per hectare.

“The continent is a key agricultural growth area for DuPont and with sufficient investment in technology, represents tremendous opportunities for productivity gains. The continent will be a major contributor to feeding the world population and the technology center will increase our breeding and testing capacity, and enable the continent to leverage the most advanced breeding technologies and germplasm pool to develop high-performing maize, sunflower and soybean products for farmers,” said Bajwa.

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