On 16 July 2020, three of South Africa’s leading agricultural seed companies joined forces to create the joint venture company Limagrain Zaad South Africa. This represents the coming together of Link Seed (Group Limagrain), Klein Karoo Seed Marketing or K2 (Zaad Group), and Seed Co South Africa – part of the largest seed company on the African continent – to create one new company to provide a competitive multi-crop alternative for producers in southern Africa.

K2 offered an agronomical and forage seed product range, as well as vegetable seed across southern Africa. Seed Co is involved in the creation, multiplication and distribution of improved hybrid seed varieties such as maize, wheat, soya beans, sugar beans, cowpeas, sorghum, groundnuts and vegetables across the African continent. Link Seed, a Limagrain affiliate, offered a range of maize and soya bean cultivars in South Africa. The French company Limagrain is the fourth largest seed company in the world, producing and distributing field seeds, vegetable seeds and cereal products.

With this joint venture, Limagrain Zaad South Africa (as part of the Limagrain Field Seeds division) offers a superior multi-crop portfolio of products and services to producers and will be a key player in the field (agronomic) and pasture seed segment. Limagrain Zaad South Africa has a unified sales team selling three top brands of seeds – LG, K2 and Seed Co – enabling them to market a complete offering to producers in South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini and Namibia.

An important alternative

Farming in southern Africa is highly competitive and often employs the leading technologies available worldwide. Today, the market is dominated by a couple of multinational companies, and the size of Limagrain Zaad South Africa and their access to technologies will give producers an important alternative for all major field and pasture crops.

According to Wandile Sihlobo, agricultural economist and chief economist of Agbiz, there needs to be competition in any sector of the agricultural industry. “Any negotiation that would benefit the sector is always healthy,” he says.

Producer-focused Limagrain is a French co-operative, owned and led by producers. “Everything that we do has producers at the heart of it. We are a company created and owned by producers, and they allow us to take a long-term view to create benefits for producers, large or small across six continents,” says Frédéric Savin, CEO of Limagrain Africa.

Limagrain Zaad South Africa will have access to every important technology, including all major GM trait platforms as well as Limagrain’s global gene-editing programmes and their proprietary digital farming platform.

Managing director Eugene Muller explains: “We have created a new unified team of highly talented and motivated seed professionals who are ready to serve our producers. Des Cuff and I, along with the whole team, are excited by the opportunity to deliver high-quality, technology-driven products to our farming communities and that we will be stronger together.” Cuff is the newly appointed deputy managing director.

A new beginning

Both Muller and Cuff have dedicated their working lives to serving the farming communities in southern Africa and bringing a wealth of experience and competence to the table. All staff from the three parent companies have already been trained in their new positions and products to ensure a seamless transition, ready to provide the best service possible for producers.

The head office of Limagrain Zaad South Africa will be in Greytown, with research and development stations in Potchefstroom and Bapsfontein. Seed will be produced in various locations across South Africa. Seed-processing facilities are in Greytown and Bethal. The distribution network, which includes own and rented depots as well as the co-operative network throughout the country, ensures supply to producers throughout the territory it services.

About Limagrain Group

Limagrain is the fourth largest seed company in the world, created and led by French producers in a unique co-operative model. Limagrain is a creator and producer of plant varieties with integrated activities across field seeds, vegetable seeds and cereal products.

Limagrain Field Seeds, with its international LG brand, is the multi-crop global fields seeds division of Group Limagrain. Limagrain Field Seeds is composed of six business units covering six continents with subsidiaries in over 40 countries, and sales in 80 countries.

The team

The team comprises seven members with Sheryl Wulfsohn as head of human resources, Margot Andrieu as head of quality assurance, and Johnnie Hunlun of finance and administration. Fanie Meiring manages the sales and marketing team, while Danie Leeuwner heads the product portfolio management. Jacques Breytenbach oversees the entire supply chain, and Louis Vlaswinkel leads the research and development function. – Press release, Limagrain Zaad South Africa