Ingenuity lies at the core of bigger and better plant breeding. This is a fact well understood by KWS SAAT, a family-owned company whose innovation has driven it to become the world's fourth-largest seed producer of agricultural crops. As it continues to flourish in 70 countries, KWS is focusing on China where it has thrived for 30 years.
KWS annually produces 300 new seed varieties of sugar beet, corn, oilseed rape, sunflower, cereals and potatoes that support year-round crop rotation for farmers. Just like their counterparts worldwide, local farmers trust and value KWS's products for their higher yields of crops that are resistant to disease and climate stressors. Such properties are crucial to farmers on the mainland with its diverse climate conditions.
Specialising in customised products, KWS has developed corn varieties for the mainland that have increased farmers' yield rates by as much as 10 to 15 per cent. "What we bring are measurable results. This is exactly what China is asking for," says Dr Hagen Duenbostel, member of KWS's executive board.
Research and development are pivotal growth factors for KWS, which has 80 testing facilities and 100,000 test plots under contract with local companies on the mainland. As the world's second-largest corn-growing market, the mainland increasingly requires more effective and professionalised plant breeding.
KWS collaborates with research institutes and universities, such as Tongji University in Shanghai, to ensure relevant solutions for local growers.
"We are counting on combined strength," Duenbostel says. "This means shared value."
KWS has also partnered with major local seed companies, such as Heilongjiang Kenfeng Seed, with which it will have a joint venture next year. "Partnerships on an eye-to-eye level could tremendously accelerate the achievements of Chinese agriculture," Duenbostel says.