De Lier, The Netherlands and Arusha, Tanzania
December 9, 2011
In its demo field in Tanzania, RZ Afrisem is currently displaying the first aubergine varieties that have been specially developed for the African market. In honour of this unique innovation, RZ Afrisem – a collaboration between breeding companies Rijk Zwaan and East West Seeds – was recently visited by a delegation from AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa).
The RZ Afrisem demo field facilitates knowledge-sharing. Picturing President Dr. Namanga from AGRA (second from the right).
Up until recently, virtually no vegetable varieties were being bred specifically for African growers. By developing commercial hybrid varieties with improved traits for tropical regions of Africa, RZ Afrisem is now transforming this situation. The newly developed varieties generate a higher yield and exhibit better resistances to diseases than the varieties traditionally cultivated in tropical Africa. Now that the first hybrids of African aubergines are a reality, the next step is to stimulate their seed production.
Providing insights into possibilities
The RZ Afrisem demo field is currently open to any vegetable growers who are interested in visiting it. In addition to displaying the improved varieties, the demo field also hosts demonstrations of a range of different cultivation techniques. By comparing their current situation with the new possibilities, growers gain insights into how they could take their own cultivation activities to a new level. One of RZ Afrisem’s key aims is to ultimately provide African growers with a better chance of a sustainable livelihood.
The African aubergine is white or light green in colour and is a popular vegetable that is widely consumed in Africa.
On 19th November, the RZ Afrisem demo field was visited by the president of AGRA, an organisation that is focused on supporting the African agricultural sector. Since AGRA’s activities overlap considerably with those of RZ Afrisem, President Dr. Namanga had previously paid a visit to the Rijk Zwaan headquarters in De Lier, The Netherlands. This time, in Tanzania, he was very impressed by RZ Afrisem’s activities and the concrete results it had achieved so far. He pledged to investigate opportunities for RZ Afrisem and AGRA to work together more closely in the future.
Rijk Zwaan is focused on the development of high-quality vegetable varieties for the professional horticultural sector under glass, in tunnels and in the ground. Its seeds are sold through its 29 subsidiaries across the world, which are able to provide expert local advice thanks to their closeness to the market. Rijk Zwaan is one of the top 5 globally active vegetable breeding companies.
Based in Arusha, Tanzania, RZ Afrisem has the long-term objective of providing hybrid vegetable varieties to the local growers in Africa. Along with training and knowledge-sharing, Rijk Zwaan intends to offer structural support to Africa through RZ Afrisem and hence contribute to the further development of the horticultural sector on this continent.