DuPont Aims to Roll Out Hybrid Corn Seed Program in Tanzania

  • Ethiopia has 300,000 hectares of land planted with hybrid seed
  • Company working with governments to implement program

DuPont Co.’s Pioneer unit hopes to expand its hybrid corn seed partnership with African governments and aid groups to Tanzania after setting up programs for farmers to use its seed in Ethiopia and Zambia.

In Ethiopia the Wilmington, Delaware-based company, the biggest supplier of hybrid corn seeds in Africa, in 2013 partnered with the government and the U.S. Agency for International Development and there are now 300,000 hectares (741,300 acres) growing corn using the seed.

In February the program was rolled out in Zambia and the company hopes to complete talks with Tanzania this year and launch the program next year, Prabdeep Bajwa, the African regional business director for Pioneer, said in an interview in Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office on Aug. 5. The program includes training and financing for farmers.

"We have to work very closely with governments,” he said. “It’s programs like AMSAP for example, that are proof points” for the use of hybrid seed.

Dupont, through its Pioneer and Pannar units, is trying to expand its seed business in Africa where there is about 35 million hectares of land under corn with an average yield of less than 2 metric tons per hectare, he said. That’s less than third of the average productivity of U.S. corn farms.

"We have had conversation in Ghana about the same deal," Bajwa said. The governments are becoming more receptive."

While genetically modified corn seed is used in South Africa it is not permitted elsewhere on the continent, boosting the potential for hybrid seed, Bajwa said.

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