Syngenta in Africa
Agriculture is at the heart of rural economic development
in Africa. Syngenta is working closely with rural
communities to provide the technology and knowledge
farmers need to increase yields and use their land
efficiently and sustainably. This is essential to achieve
the step-change in productivity required to meet the
increasing demand for food of a population expected to
double by 2050 to 1.8 billion people – and to improve the
livelihoods of millions of subsistence farmers.
As a world-leading company in agriculture, Syngenta
provides the modern crop technology that Africa needs to
increase yields and crop quality, protect against plant disease
and pests, and improve rural livelihoods. The company is
committed to training farmers how to use this technology
effectively and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.
Syngenta’s innovative seeds, seed care and crop protection
products offer benefits for farmers ranging from soil
preparation to harvest and beyond. Using modern breeding
techniques, Syngenta creates high-yielding and high-quality
seeds. Syngenta’s vegetable seeds are widely used in Egypt,
Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, for example. Modern
breeding is also used to develop plant traits that resist pests
or tolerate water shortages.
Too little water, too many pests
Water scarcity is one of the most pressing challenges for
farmers in many areas of Africa and Syngenta is developing
crop varieties that require less water. Unreliable rainfall
affects yields and crop quality, and droughts can cause crops
to fail. Syngenta has developed a new variety of tropical
sugar beet to be grown in relatively dry conditions. After a
successful pilot in India it is currently undergoing trials in
Sudan. It also brings additional benefits for farmers –
because of its short growth time, smallholders can boost their
income by growing a second food crop in the same season.
Seed care products such as CRUISER® protect seeds and
young plants during the critical first few weeks of
development, as well as improving plant vigor. Insecticides,
Syngenta is developing
fungicides and herbicides from Syngenta help farmers in
crop varieties that
Africa protect their crops from pests, disease and weeds.
require less water.
Cocoa farmers in West Africa, for example, use the Syngenta
fungicide, RIDOMIL®, to control brown and black pod disease
which can claim entire harvests. AMISTAR® is used to
control a wide range of diseases affecting wheat, a staple
food crop in much of North Africa and large parts of Sudan
and Ethiopia. After harvest, ACTELLIC protects grain by
effectively controlling moths and weevils that can cause
devastating losses during storage.
Insecticides such as EFORIA, which protects against
caterpillars that attack tomatoes, help farmers maximize
yields and the quality of vegetables to increase their income
from selling cash crops. Syngenta herbicides such as
GRAMOXONE® reduce the labor needed for hand-weeding
and contribute to soil conservation by decreasing the need for
Tailored business models
An important element of Syngenta’s approach is to adapt
business models to suit the diverse socio-economic
conditions of African countries. The varied nature of
agriculture across the continent means farmers’ needs are
very different from one area to another, even when they are
growing the same crop. The needs of a Moroccan farmer
growing tomatoes for export are very different from a
subsistence farmer growing wheat in Ethiopia or a large-scale
sugar cane producer in South Africa. Farming methods may
use traditional techniques or modern machinery, while levels
of knowledge and literacy vary widely.
Syngenta’s Agadir research centre in Morocco breeds new
vegetable varieties and Kaha Station, the Syngenta
development center in Egypt, carries out research on crops
and solutions specifically suited to African agriculture. It is a
centre of expertise for the surrounding farming community,
regularly engaging in joint trial projects and supporting
training for distributors and end users on the application of
our crop protection products.
Training for better farming
It is vital to raise awareness of the technologies available and
to train farmers how to use them. Training local retailers
about safe and effective use of crop protection products is
also an effective way to pass on knowledge to farmers.
Syngenta educates retailers about cropping, diseases,
product selection, safe storage, transport and the use of
products. This helps retailers help their customers to find the
best solutions and provide appropriate products to secure
and enhance yields.
In South Africa, for example, Syngenta has trained 23 trainers
on responsible use of crop protection products with the aim of
reaching 1,000 farmers. By reducing pesticide residues in
their fruit and vegetables, this helps farmers access new
markets by achieving certification to standards such as
GlobalGAP. In Nigeria, Syngenta trained more than 900
farmers and 90 agricultural students and extension staff on
the safe use of crop protection products in 2007 and 2008.
A training program for 3,000 farmers in the arid area of
Laikipia in Kenya has helped them combat declining,
unreliable crop yields. It also highlighted the need to make
crop protection products more accessible to smallholders. So
in 2008 Syngenta launched a range of small packs at an
affordable price. Branded Uwezo (meaning ‘ability’ in
Swahili), these products are helping to increase farmers’
incomes by improving crop yields and quality in a region It is vital to raise
where food is scarce. Farmers who have used the Uwezo awareness of the
range have reported productivity gains of up to 50%, making technologies available
this a valuable tool for combating poverty levels in rural and to train farmers
Africa. how to use them.
Improving health and livelihoods
For smallholder farmers in Africa, weeds present a constant
threat to the survival of their crops. Around 25 tons of weeds
per hectare compete with crops for space, nutrients, light and
water. Yield losses can range from 25 percent to total crop
Between 50 and 70 percent of the total labor needed to
produce a crop can go on hand-weeding, with a typical one-
hectare smallholder farm requiring an average of 200 hours
of hand-weeding each year. Most of this is done by women,
walking around 10 kilometers in a stooped position to weed
just one hectare. This results in back problems and
sometimes permanent deformities to the spine. Nearly 70
percent of farmers’ children also help with weeding, keeping
them away from school.
Syngenta herbicides provide cheaper and more effective
weed control – at around half the cost of labor required for
hand-weeding maize fields in West Africa, for example.
Herbicides can be applied using backpack sprayers,
preventing the need for bending and significantly reducing the
time and labor needed to control weeds. This improves the
health of women working on the farms and frees up children
to attend school, while the higher yields make it easier for
farmers to pay school fees.
Acting against malaria
Farmers in many African regions that are well suited to
agriculture face a health threat from malaria-carrying insects.
Agriculture and malaria are inextricably linked, sharing the
same three basic requirements: heat, water and people.
Ninety percent of all reported malaria cases are in sub-
Saharan Africa, with nearly one million deaths every year.
Wide-spread ill health affects farm productivity, reducing
available labor. As a result, smallholder farmers often choose
to plant staple crops for subsistence rather than more labor-
intensive cash crops. In endemic areas, absenteeism as a
result of ill health can also affect productivity and profitability
of large-scale operations.
Syngenta plays a leading role in preventing malaria through a
broad portfolio of products to control mosquitoes and through
partnerships with government and non-governmental
initiatives. The ICON insecticide range protects homes with
treated mosquito nets and kits to spray indoor surfaces. More
than nine million households have already been treated with
Syngenta products in 2009. This is complemented by training
to identify the source of mosquitoes and understand how to
use our products safely and effectively.
Collaboration and partnership
Syngenta has a dedicated team in sub-Saharan Africa to
support national health ministries. By providing specialized
expertise they can work effectively in partnership with local
organizations and deliver the maximum benefit to
communities at risk. Syngenta continues its own research
and development into new insecticides as well as
collaborating with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium.
Syngenta is also contributing £1 million to support scientific
innovation and promote access to technology in Africa Syngenta supports
through the Pan African Chemistry Network (PACN), in scientific innovation
collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry. Launched and promotes access
in 2008 in Kenya, the network is looking for ways to reduce to technology through
disease, and secure clean water and sustainable food the PACN.