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Monsanto commissioned R150 million maize seed processing plant in South Africaqrcode

Apr. 26, 2011

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Apr. 26, 2011

The largest technologically advanced maize seed processing plant in Africa has been commissioned in Lichtenburg by Monsanto. The plant, known as Thobonile (Setswana for “cream of the crop”) and costing R150 million, was officially opened by Kobus Lindeque, managing director of Monsanto, sub-Sahara Africa, “to provide farmers with the best quality genetic seed”. The plant will be in full production from May 1.

The plant covers 220 metres X 36 metres under one roof and can store 140 000 bags of approximately 21 kg of seed each, GM and non-GM, which is disposed of within four months after harvesting. Cold storage of 4000 sq metres can store 40 000 bags below 15 degrees C. This is mainly for carry-over stock.

Some 300 000 bags of approximately 10 kg GM seed with 35 000 kernels each are currently being exported to the Philippines, Europe, Egypt and elsewhere, earning valuable foreign exchange.

The plant comprises the latest grain drying and laboratory research facility. The drying facility can handle 320 tons of wet cobs a day. The leaves are removed on site and the maize is dried on the cobs to the required temperature and then shelled on site.

In the laboratory a variety of scientific tests are carried out, including eight levels of DNA tests for the correct traits, seed purity and germination vigour.
According to Lindeque, Monsanto plans to establish a similar plant in Zambia.

"Monsanto’s priority is to provide people with food. Food starts with quality seed. Ten years ago the average maize yield in South Africa was just over 2t/ha. Today the average yield is more than 4t/ha, thanks to the GM technology,” said Lindeque.

"We made a change to agriculture. We have assured that there is food for everybody in South Africa and in addition we can feed a large part of Africa. This facility at Lichtenburg will make a massive impact on the future of agriculture,” he added.

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