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Soybean technology exported to Africa

The Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois recently partnered with Argentinian company Rizobacter to bring soybean technology to 26 African countries. The unique public-private partnership provides the Soybean Innovation Lab Pan-African Soybean Variety Trial network with access to a cutting-edge inoculant product, Rizoliq TOP, for use in the Africa-wide Pan-African Soybean Variety Trial platform.

The partnership also provides Rizobacter, a global producer of inoculants, with access to new African markets through the Pan-African Soybean Variety Trial network, which includes seed companies, nucleus growers, processors, national agricultural research stations, universities and commercial farmers.

Soybean producers apply inoculant to the seed before planting to ensure the right type of bacteria for the plant are present in the soil. Those bacteria help the soybean plant form nodules on the root system, allowing it to convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into a compound that enables plant growth and the formation of beans.

Ignacio Ardanaz, Rizobacter’s business development manager for Africa and India, said, “Currently as a company we are directly or indirectly supplying inoculant products in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and Sierra Leona. And we are actively working on registration and looking for opportunities in many other countries. It is a pleasure for Rizobacter to join Soybean Innovation Lab on the amazing work the lab is doing across Africa.”

Rizoliq TOP is formulated with Osmo Protection Technology, which provides the inoculant with a higher concentration, a more robust physiological state and greater tolerance to stresses therefore improving the survival of microorganisms on the seed. The higher concentration of Bradyrhizobium japonicum ensures that the radicle of the germinated seed is quickly infected, accelerating and maximizing the process of biological fixation of nitrogen.

Peter Goldsmith, director of the Soybean Innovation Lab, said, “This partnership provides the soybean industry with access to a high-quality source of inoculant, which is an extremely effective and low-cost solution to improving soybean productivity. It also helps growers of other legume crops gain access to this important resource by introducing the supplier, Rizobacter, to wider markets.”

The Rizobacter team is in regular communication with the Soybean Innovation Lab Pan-African Soybean Variety Trial network across the 26 trial countries and 115 locations to ensure the Rizoliq TOP product is effective for the various operators, who range from seed companies and commercial farmers to research stations and institutes.

Through public-private partnerships the Soybean Innovation Lab charts a sustainable path for the future of the Pan-African Soybean Variety Trial platform, which fast-tracks the identification, registration and release of new high-yielding soybean varieties sourced from a global network of public and private-sector seed suppliers.

The Soybean Innovation Lab is housed in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. Visit www.soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu for more information.

Steph Adams is a communications manager for the University of Illinois-College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

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