Bayer assures farmers in East Africa over availability of seeds

Thursday October 18 2018

Bayer East Africa

Bayer East Africa's Vincent Hainga explains to a farmer a point on pesticide use on tomatoes during the Kisii farmers clinic. FILE PHOTO | BRIAN OKINDA | NATION 

By NJIRAINI MUCHIRA
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German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer AG says its products will be available to farmers in the East Africa region despite lawsuits in other parts of the world.

The company recently completed a $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto, creating a colossus that competitors fear will control the seeds, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides markets across the globe.

Neonicotinoids were banned in the European Union for being harmful to bees while the glyphosate herbicide, which is popularly known as Roundup, has been cited as a possible cause of cancer.

Jesus Madrazo, Bayer Crop Science head of agricultural affairs and sustainability, insists that the decisions in the EU and the US were not based on scientific proof.

Bayer has appealed a decision by a US jury to slap Monsanto with a $289 million compensation award.

In East Africa, Bayer has hailed the acquisition of Monsanto, saying it will drive innovations and solutions in the agriculture sector and contribute to food security.

“We want to shape agriculture in a positive way and improve lives. This is why we believe the combined business will deliver solutions to farmers for them to maximize production and profitability,” said Mr Madrazo.

Bayer Crop Science concentrate on crop protection while Monsanto specialised in seeds.

Market intelligence data estimates that the merger has resulted in Bayer controlling about 30 per cent of both the seeds and agrochemicals market in Africa, which critics say could result in anti-competition practices like unilateral price fixing.

The ripple effect could be pushing small-scale farmers further to the alternative market of generics while the menace of counterfeits could worsen.

The acquisition also gives Bayer the mantle to push for the adoption of genetically modified organisms, which have remained a pariah technology in the East African region.

The company is in a partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation to develop hybrid maize seeds that promise better harvests.

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