Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Syngenta to invest $500m in African agriculture

27 September 2013. SWITZERLAND-based agribusiness Syngenta is planning to invest $500m in African agriculture over the next decade as it targets more than $1bn in sales of its seed and crop-protection products.

Mike Mack, CEO of Syngenta International, said in an interview that the "cumulative investments" in Africa would include recruitment and training of more than "700 employees with a high level of agronomic specialisation".

Productivity rises are expected from a modern technological revolution in Africa and genetic modification (GM) of seeds that enable greater crop yields. GM crops have been slow to gain acceptance in Africa but an increasing number of countries are conducting trials and growing limited amounts of crops. South Africa is the continent’s leader in GM technology, cultivating by far the greatest amount of crops.

Syngenta’s move follows that of multinational agribusiness DuPont Pioneer that earlier this year bought 80% of South African seed company Pannar in what it described as its "biggest investment in Africa". Agricultural leaders then predicted that more investments by multinationals in Africa would follow.

Mr Mack said further:
There are many millions of "pre-commercial" smallholder farmers in Africa, but Syngenta does not view the consolidation of small farms into bigger entities as "either desirable or necessary". Countries like India, Vietnam. Indonesia and Bangladesh have shown that agriculture need not be scale dependent. I disagree that there is a need to be big.The argument that only big commercial farms could employ economies of scale does not take into account the role that business could play in providing services for small farmers.Private enterprise must respond to the needs of small farmers. Yes, a small farmer cannot buy an expensive tractor, for example, but businesses or co-ops can provide tractor services, as well as planters and harvesters. It’s done all over the world.

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