AGRIBUSINESS: Biotech Seed Could Help African Yields
Biotech corn is commonplace in Iowa, and according to USDA represents about 90% of all corn planted in the U.S. in 2013.
That’s not the case worldwide.
Dr. Firoz Amijee is DuPont Pioneer’s director of biotech affairs and registration in the Asia-Pacific, European, and African regions. He says most of the rejection or reluctance to use biotech corn is found in the European Union. In other areas, such as Africa, regulations simply aren’t in place yet. Amijee says Africa’s middle class is growing, slowly, and with it the demand for protein, from livestock. That’s where DuPont Pioneer comes in.
“Africa has the same acreage,” he says, “in terms of corn area as the U.S. So you can imagine the U.S. market for corn. We are the same size; 35 million hectares or so in Africa. But the productivity is about a fifth of what we produce in the U.S. So there is a huge potential there. And one of the first things we can do is give them better seed. Just shifting to hybrids will give a huge boost in yield.”
Amijee says the emerging Kenyan market only just put biotech regulations in place a year ago. Eventually, he hopes to leverage work in the nearby South African region to apply to other countries on the continent, simplifying the process.