South Africa’s premier agricultural research science institution, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), has entered into a licensing agreement with Victus Bio (Pty) Ltd. This agreement sees the development and production of a biological product to manage crown gall on vines. This product is currently going through collaborative and extensive trialing in the Western Cape.

Partnership for agricultural productivity

Victus Bio recently invested in the design and construction of a state–of–the-art bioreactor. The reactor is used to formulate biological products with excellent quality and shelf-life.

In accordance with the bio-economy strategy of the Department of Science and Technology, developing the benefit of the National Collections to support agricultural productivity in South Africa is key. At the same time it needs to support and grow the National Collections within the required legislative framework. As a result, the ARC has partnered with Victus Bio, a commercial organisation with extensive experience and competencies in the biological product formulation area. The organisation focuses specifically on the formulation of biological plant health products.

This capability, combined with the extensive resources in the National Collections, offer exciting prospects for the future. This includes a nitrogen fixating bacterial strain on rooibos and a legume-specific strain of bacteria, which is currently being evaluated for efficacy.

Sustainable crop production

Te collaboration between the ARC and Victus Bio aims to benefit the expansion and development of the National Collections as the South African national depository of microbial diversity. At the same time it strives to deliver sustainable crop production solutions to the agricultural sector. The ARC’s campus responsible for plant health and protection is the custodian of various National Collections. It includes the South African Rhizobium Culture Collection (SARCC). This collection includes nitrogen fixating bacteria and other beneficial rhizobacterial strains with plant growth promotion traits.

As part of the collaboration between the two organisations, scientists from Victus Bio and the ARC are working closely to screen and develop new biological products. These products will contribute to sustainable crop production practices and mitigate environmental risks in agriculture.

According to Dr Ansa van Vuuren: “The ARC and Victus Bio’s partnership is an indication that the public and private sectors can successfully work together to meet the demands of the National Development Plan goals and thus benefit South Africa in the present as well as leaving a strong legacy.” – Media release, Agricultural Research Council