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Syngenta opens new state-of-the-art herbicide filling plant

News Snippets
24.11.2014

Syngenta opens new state-of-the-art herbicide filling plant  


The automated herbicide filling line that Syngenta opened on 4 November is an investment in innovation and technology aimed at boosting Africa’s contribution to global food security.
 
Only about 5% of growers in Africa currently use herbicides to protect their crops. Andrew Guthrie, Regional Director, Syngenta EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), mentioned this remarkable fact in his speech at the opening of Syngenta’s new high-tech herbicide filling line.
 
The line is part of Syngenta’s formulation, fill and packaging (FF&P) plant in the town of Brits in the North West Province. Just like the Seedcare Institute that was recently opened at the plant, the filling line is the only one of its kind in Africa.
 
Syngenta invested about R20 million in the new herbicide filling line. The decision to do so was not an accident, said Andrew. “This expansion is part of Syngenta’s deliberate effort to scale up crop production in Africa. Our business on the African continent (and South Africa in particular) is growing and we needed to invest in modern tools and technology to meet the demands of our customers.” The expansion is also a key component of Syngenta’s growth strategy in South Africa, which is built on local manufacturing and training.
 
The line is fully automated. Robots place the containers on the conveyor belt where they are filled, capped and labelled and finally grouped together to be packed in boxes. A clever robot at the end of the production line stacks and arranges the boxes on a crate, ready for shipping. 
 
Weed control in one of the key constraints to agricultural production in Africa, with current methods not hitting the mark.  Smallholder farmers have historically fought weeds with tillage and hand weeding. However, given that tilling can contribute to soil erosion, herbicides have become the foremost weed management tool in no-till agriculture.
 
According to Paul Claxton, Head of the Brits FF&P site, the expanded facility will contribute to realising Africa’s agricultural potential. “It will help us to better serve the continent’s growing requirements, reduce time to market and improve efficiencies by significantly increasing our filling capabilities.”
 
In 2013, Syngenta formalised its commitment to food security in The Good Growth Plan that sets out specific and ambitious targets to be reached by 2020. Although the Plan has an international scope, it includes specific goals for Africa, such as helping the continent’s four million smallholder farmers to become 50% more productive.
 
Improving these growers’ access to superior quality herbicides is a significant step towards achieving the goals of The Good Growth Plan.