Syngenta to Open Second Africa Research Center in Kenya in 2016

Syngenta AG, the world’s largest producer of crop chemicals, said it will start a second African seed-treatment institute in Kenya in 2016 and plans to expand in the continent’s western nations in the next five years.

The company opened its first research and development facility on the continent in the South African town of Brits this week and plans another in Kenya in two years, said Abraham Vermeulen, the company’s head of corn, sugar and diverse field crops in the region. The Brits unit is Basel-based Syngenta’s 11th such plant and it plans to have a total of 18 centers by the end of 2016, he said.

“Kenya is the second-biggest seeds market in Africa,” Vermeulen said in a May 6 interview in Brits, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Johannesburg. “We will be expanding to West African countries, most probably Nigeria, in the longer term.” The company didn’t disclose the cost of the facility.

Syngenta is investing in South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn producer, to be closer to its customers. The global seed-treatment market is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2018 from $2.5 billion, the company said in statement handed to reporters on May 6. Syngenta applies crop-protection chemicals directly to seeds before sowing, which it says protects plants when they are most vulnerable.

“A farmer that does not have seed-care protection on his plant will likely lose half of his harvest,” Vermeulen said.

Seeds treated include corn, sunflower, cereals such as wheat, soy and vegetables, he said.

Syngenta is the world’s third-biggest seedmaker, with 10 percent of the market, according to Bloomberg Industries data. Monsanto Co. is the largest at 30 percent, followed by DuPont Co., which makes Pioneer genetically modified corn, at 22 percent.

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