A strategic equity partnership between plant biotechnology company Vitroplant South Africa, based in Somerset West, and Vitroplant Italia, the South African ZZ2 group and Hishtil South Africa (part of Hishtil International) was announced earlier this week.
Rijk Danckwerst remains managing director of Vitroplant South Africa (previously known as Ruvalabs) in which the multinational group of companies have become joint shareholders.
The company propagates a wide variety of crops through tissue culture, and according to the joint press release, the new partnership will allow mass imports of in vitro plant material, such as Malus and Prunus plant material from Vitroplant Italia and blueberry varieties from the USA for Topfruit’s new range of low and high chill blueberry varieties.
Moreover, Vitroplant South Africa has been approved as a multi-crop maintenance and propagation facility for in vitro potato plantlets in terms of the South African Potato Certification Scheme, and it operates a potato gene bank. It also has experience in grape embryo rescue and international ornamental plant exports.
“Vitroplant SA aims to produce a range of tree nuts, grapes, potatoes, pomegranates, ornamental and medicinal plants as the company has the facilities with the capacity and infrastructure to propagate quality plant tissue culture material in large commercial quantities with access to a broad range of international experience and technologies including popular and new genetics,” the statement continues.
“With the increasing challenges, inputs and overhead costs required in South Africa’s new orchards and perennial export crops, the importance of high-quality, strong and disease free plant material is essential for the viability of these crops and critical for a quicker return on investment.”
According to the press release, Vitroplant Italia’s investment in South Africa’s agricultural sector is in response to “very big” local demand for quality young plants. The ZZ2 Group is a major agricultural company in South Africa with a very high degree of diversification. already in long-established partnership with Hishtil SA. The companies call the new development “a huge asset for South African agriculture”.