Before the sales and marketing division of Enza Zaden was established in 2017, they were already multiplying onion seeds on farms in the Klein-Karoo region of the Western Cape, one of the prime vegetable seed production localities in the world.
In Oudtshoorn, mostly onion seed is grown, then consolidated and quality-tested, enhanced, and packed in the Netherlands before being shipped out to their customers worldwide.
Enza Zaden is the market leader in onion seed in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is a growth region for short-day onions. The company has recently introduced a red onion with excellent shelf life in Kenya (a market that takes only red onions).
Research and development
“The biggest component of investment at Enza Zaden is in R&D, which means investing in a future which is as yet unknown,” Matome observes. “Behind every commercial variety, there are years of selecting and breeding work.”
To enlarge their tissue culture capacity, in 2019 the company bought out the other stakeholders in Western Cape Biotech which it now controls and which functions in close association with Enza Zaden’s Netherlands-based laboratories, specifically on sweet peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce.
“It highlights the importance South Africa has for Enza Zaden and the value we see in South Africa. It’s been a great journey, not without its challenges but we have a very good team. Behind Enza, is the customer.”
Matome remarks that there is a lot happening in the East African horticultural sector – the company has a team in Kenya, as well as representation in Uganda and Ethiopia, all managed from the office in South Africa.
“There has been tremendous growth for Enza over the past five years. We’ve created a lot of value for customers as we grew the global brand.”