By Abdallah el-Kurebe
A newly expanded research facility at Delmas, South Africa has today been unveiled by Dupont Pioneer to serve as the core Africa’s regional technology center, Ellen Kullman, DuPont Chair and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has revealed.
The center is designed to help advance DuPont’s ongoing efforts to accelerate seed product development for Africa’s farmers and help them better manage key agronomic challenges, including pest and disease pressure, climate volatility and nutrient-depleted soils.
“Agriculture has a vital role to play in the social and economic security of African countries. We are harnessing DuPont’s global science capabilities and resources to create local solutions that improve productivity for farmers in South Africa and throughout the continent,” said Kullman adding, “We believe this technology center will be a catalyst for innovation and collaboration to help feed a growing population in Africa and around the world.”
Comprising a network of existing DuPont Pioneer and Pannar research facilities and testing locations throughout Africa, Delmas would serve as the central hub of the regional technology center, which would also “help drive the seed research and development (R&D) product pipelines for DuPont Pioneer and Pannar, capitalizing on complementary germplasm pools and developing innovative solutions for customers of both brands.”
DuPont Pioneer had acquired South Africa-based Pannar seed in 2013 and began investing in the regional technology center for which it is committing a total of R62 million (South African Rand) or about US$5.8 million by 2017.
The Delmas facility, Dupont informs, includes Africa’s first private insectary, which would raise and house insects that pose challenges to local crop production. “Having a local insectary is critical to the development of traits and solutions to combat yield-robbing pests,” Paul E. Schickler, DuPont Pioneer President said adding, “We are proud to build this type of cutting-edge insect research facility for the benefit of Africa’s farmers.”
The Africa center will employ leading R&D technologies, such as doubled haploids, ear photometry and the proprietary Pioneer Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT™) System. “It will also use genetic breeding technologies, including marker-assisted seed selection, to help shorten crop breeding cycles and improve accuracy toward breeding targets.”