DuPont Chair and Chief Executive Officer Ellen Kullman unveiled a newly expanded research facility at Delmas, South Africa, that will serve as the core of the DuPont Africa regional technology center. The technology 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. “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.”
Delmas will serve as the central hub of the regional technology center, which is comprised of a network of existing DuPont Pioneer and Pannar research facilities and testing locations throughout Africa. The Africa regional technology center as a whole will 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 began investing in this regional technology center in 2013 after acquiring South Africa-based Pannar seed. The business remains committed to investing a total of R62 million (South African Rand) or about $5.8 million in the South Africa center by 2017.
DuPont noted that the Delmas facility includes Africa’s first private insectary, which will 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,” said DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler. “We are proud to build this type of cutting-edge insect research facility for the benefit of Africa’s farmers.”
The Africa regional technology 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.
Key research positions in Delmas and in other parts of Africa have been filled by local scientists and skilled technicians.
DuPont has similar technology centers in Brazil, India and China as part of the company’s global research network.