SU­PER MAIZE

Finweek English Edition - - Economic Trends & Analysis - JO­HANN VAN ZYL

THE VERY FIRST drought-re­sis­tant maize cul­ti­var will soon be with us. It will be an­other step on the path to pro­duc­ing enough healthy food on less land for a bur­geon­ing pop­u­la­tion. That not only guar­an­tees es­sen­tial food sup­plies but also fair price in­creases for the con­sumer by bring­ing the sup­ply more in line with the in­creas­ing de­mand.

Kobus Steenkamp, agri­cul­tural chem­istry and biotech­nol­ogy mar­ket­ing man­ager for Mon­santo, says the next gen­er­a­tion of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied prod­ucts from his com­pany (a leader in the field of biotech­nol­ogy) has ar­rived. “This will dou­ble farm­ers’ crops by 2030 – and that means maize, soya beans and cot­ton.”

The first ex­per­i­ments with droughtre­sis­tant maize in South Africa – planted in the Hopetown district this sea­son – were a huge suc­cess. By mak­ing more ef­fi­cient use of the avail­able wa­ter an 8% to 10% larger crop is the norm, which en­sures an ap­prox­i­mately R172 800 big­ger profit on the av­er­age 300ha maize farm. In dry years the dif­fer­ence will be even greater.

De­pend­ing on reg­u­la­tory ap­proval, the first maize cul­ti­var with mul­ti­ple genes that will also be re­sis­tant to stem­bor­ers and root­worm dis­eases will also be on the mar­ket by 2010.

Steenkamp says that with con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates of crop in­creases of only 7% to 11%, farm­ers can earn an ex­tra R132 000/100ha of soya beans in nor­mal years with the new drought-re­sis­tant cul­ti­vars. In dry years the dif­fer­ence could be dra­matic.

“And then there’s other ex­cit­ing re­search un­der way that will, among oth­ers, en­sure soya beans with omega 3 fatty acids and high-sta­bil­ity soya oil that elim­i­nate trans fats and re­duce the sat­u­rated fat con­tent of soya oil.”

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