RijkZwaan soft launched field station in Egypt
Despite Corona business must go on. RijkZwaan hosts soft launch of its field station and melon field days in a series of COVID-proof events.
Since Egypt joined the international Plant Variety Protection Organization (UPOV) on the 1st of December 2019, new opportunities have opened for plant breeders to move from trade to investment. RijkZwaan is a successful example of a company working closely with farmers, input distributers and agriculture research centres to develop resilient crop varieties against harsh climate conditions in North Africa and Middle East.
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On 8th of June, 2020, RijkZwaan organized a field day, which brought together farmers, distributers and researchers from different research centres and representatives of the Netherlands embassy in Egypt. The field day took place at the newly established RijkZwaan field trial station, which was built in new farmland on the edge of the Nile delta. On the farm different successful planted hybrid varieties such as melon and watermelon were presented. These are known to be resilient against heat and common diseases such as powdery mildew: stress common to the agro-ecological climate of the Middle East and North Africa region. This station is thus an important regional hub in RijkZwaan’s breeding activities.
“These varieties have a great role to support Egypt and Middle East to deal with the challenges associated with Sustainable development Goals in general and especially (SDG2): sustainably providing sufficient and healthy diets to a growing population in the context of climate change and scarce natural resources”. FAO
The initial plan had been to have an international launch of the trial station with a wide range of international dignitaries and representatives from the Middle East and North Africa, involving RijkZwaan distributors, representatives from headquarters as well as governmental and diplomatic. Due to COVID 19 and related safety measures, the event was down scaled into a series of smaller tours of the site with all due sanitary precautions.
Overall was an important step for RijkZwaan to showcase its achivments and the importance of the local hyprid variaties on the local and regional level. The newly established field station is around 25 Feddan (10.5 Ha.) located on the desert road after Sadat city. The station is divided into trial plots and incorporates open field and greenhouses testing different hybrid varieties from melon, watermelon, cucumber and bell peppers. The RijkZwaan Egypt Team presented visitors with different samples from hybrid varieties of melon and Watermelon and explained their importance. They also took guests to the field to illustrate us the cultivation process. Later on, they explained the difference between each variety such quality and resilience.
RijkZwaan has taken a courageous step to move from trade to investment. From working through distributors, to having a local presence in Egypt with own trial farm. They have been able to take this step because of the long-standing relationship they have developed with Egypt and its people over decades. This step has been made possible because of the confidence this family business has in the competence of its Egyptian staff and management, and the networks and relations they have built. The move from trade to investment, provides benefits for Egypt and the Netherlands (as well as Egypt’s other international trading partners). This is a great example of the type of cooperation, trade and investment that the Agricultural Team of the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo wants to support.
As an Agricultural Team, we share the interest and the ambition of the Government of Egypt to attract more foreign investment in the area of agri-food innovation and technology development, including crop breeding and seed production. There are great opportunities to do more in this area. This ambition however can only be realized with an enabling environment that gives companies such as RijkZwaan confidence to invest and give Egypt a bigger role their research and development activities.