February was an exciting month for us at Seed Co, as we received our first visit from our major shareholder Limagrain represented by their board members. The Limagrain Group is an international agri-business based in France and operates as a cooperative. It was founded and is directed by farmers. They have over the years grown to become the largest seed company in Europe, specializing in vegetables, field crops and cereal products. Limagrain’s vegetable seed division is the second largest company in the industry.
This was a very important visit for all of us as it was an opportunity for us to recognise that we are the stewards of our shareholders’ investments and we value their trust and confidence. Our goal for this momentous visit was to give our new partners a better understanding of our business and operations, experience our corporate culture and strengthen our new partnership.
The visit kicked off in Zambia, our second largest strategic business unit for the Seed Co group. The SBU prides itself as the country’s leading player in Zambia and also manages the seed reserves for the group. We took the board members on a tour of our factory followed by a visit to one of our lead seed growers at their farm. The board members were introduced to some of our local and regional management team. This included MD’s for Malawi and Tanzania who took this opportunity to come through and meet the Limagrain board members as well as share ideas and experiences.
We then moved our tour to Zimbabwe, where the board was warmly welcomed at Harare International Airport by the Seed Co management. From the airport we took our board members to Stapleford which affored us the opportunity to pass through highway demo plots where they got a first hand view of part of our marketing efforts. At Stapleford, they enjoyed a detailed presentation of the site, covering its history and operations, as this is where our journey to become a leading seed company in Africa started in 1940.
Proceedings then moved to our unit factory where we introduced our visitors to our new division PrimeSeed Co as well as Seed Co Zimbabwe. This was followed by an evening cocktail event to officially welcome and introduce the Limagrain board to the Seed Co Group.
On the second day of the Zimbabwe tour, our visiting board members were taken to meet our main Seed Co Zimbabwean grower, Len Smith at his farm in Mashonaland Central. Len is one of the main contributors to the Seed Co success story. Len took us all on a tour of his farm and explained the various processes and systems in place that have contributed to his contiuned success. This visit was particulary heartwarming, as our board members are farmers themselves and thus bonded with Len, farmer to farmer.
The next stop on the tour was at our main research farm, Rattary Arnold Research Farm. This was the most important part of the visit for the Limagrain board members as the bulk of their investment is towards research and development. During this visit we showcased the Limagrain Seed Co collaboration in the following areas:
- Molecular Lab
- Pathology lab
- Doubled Haploid (DH) Lab
- The combined effort from the Labs that will speed variety release
- Dedicated DH, Pathology and Molecular Team in place at Rattary Arnold Research Station
To mark this occasion we proceeded to the official tree planting ceremony, where trees were planted at all the stations. These trees will serve as a memorial of this auspicous visit and of the joining together of Seed Co and Limagrain.
From the Research farm, the board was taken to Victoria Falls where they enjoyed the magnificence of our landscape, culture and tourism.
From the feedback we received, the board was very appreciative of the hard work and leadership that is on the ground which ensures the African Seed Company, Seed Co remains dominant in the Agro Industry. We in turn welcomed this visit and appreciated the opportunity to strengthen our new relationship with the Limagrain Group and look forward to working together as we expand our footprint beyond the African market.