The company has started hybrid trials in Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria, executive director Mr Edward Mhandu said in an interview. He said the business objective was to expand in “all cotton growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa” in the short to medium term.
“We are examining the ecological zones to see if our hybrid seeds are suitable,” said Mr Mhandu.
India’s leading agri-biotech company, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, acquired a controlling stake in Quton last year from Seed Co in a transaction worth $10 million.
The acquisition gave the Indian firm a platform to introduce hybrid seeds to Africa. The foray into African market is expected to strengthen Mahyco’s positioning in the global cotton market.
Quton has operations in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Malawi, which predominantly use open pollinated varieties. Studies are also underway to introduce hybrid seed in these countries.
Last year, Mahyco said while Africa was a major cotton growing region, it did not have hybrid varieties. It said it would start introducing hybrid varieties and after its success, it would introduce Bt seeds.
“The African region has significant potential on the agri bio-tech front to increase farm productivity by using modern seed technology.
“This will benefit the local farming community,” said Mahyco.
Mr Mhandu said the thrust was to ensure farmer viability is enhanced.
“Our objective is to enhance farmer productivity,” said Mr Mhandu.
“If a farmer grows, our company will also grow. We want to develop hybrid seeds to ensure maximum yields.”
Established in 1964, Mahyco was the first seed company in the world to successfully commercialise hybrid cotton seed. It also focuses on research, development, production, and distribution of cotton seed African countries.
Currently, it is conducting research, production, processing and marketing of approximately 150 products in 30 crops, which includes cotton, grains, oilseeds and vegetables.
Quton is the only cotton seed company in Zimbabwe and its main role is breeding, processing and marketing cotton seed to largely smallholder sectors in the SADC region.