Pannar plans another 50 years of quality

The SA-based Pannar Group celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Having grown into an internationally recognised, quality commercial seed producer and supplier of other agri-inputs, Pannar is already planning ahead for the next 50 years. MD Deon van Rooyen, reviews past highlights and gives his take on the future of his company.
Issue date : 06 June 2008

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The Pannar Group was started by four Greytown, KZN, farming families back in 1958. The Corbishleys, Van Rooyens, Jarvies and Van der Vyvers, like the ever-growing staff who’ve joined the business since then, have valued the importance of staying up to date with the latest plant breeding and quality seed-production research and technology, in order to produce the best products possible for SA and international farmers.

Not many independent local companies have survived the ups and downs of and the world’s political and economic history. Pannar has grown tremendously over the years, especially since we decided in the 1980s to spread our operations globally. S ince then we’ve been exposed to constant changes.

The growing demand for grain crops for biofuel production in the US, China, India and Europe is creating ongoing opportunities for both the Pannar Group and the world’s farmers. This will eventually extend to farmers too, when this country begins using biofuel on a large scale. Modern communications systems let Pannar access the newest relevant technologies from around the world. can use the massive diversity of crop genetic resources available to develop improved products, tailored to specific regions internationally, to feed, clothe and fuel the growing world population. agriculture must be globally competitive.

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The Pannar Group has its roots in SA. This country’s farmers are among the best in the world and aren’t happy with anything less than the best agri-inputs. With no market protection and government subsidies, farmers need the best inputs to remain effective producers.

Pannar’s independence allows it greater scope to pick and choose the technologies it needs to produce the best products, and ensure our credibility globally is never brought into question. Our biggest business is developing, producing and marketing seed for crops and forage crops, especially hybrids. We also produce and sell flower and vegetable seed through our Starke Ayres subsidiary, have our own farming operations under the Pidelta name, supply agrochemicals under the Kombat brand, and own motor vehicle dealerships under the Mascor name. Pannar is SA’s largest seed company, and has seed research, development, production and marketing facilities in countries like Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi. In recent years, escalating biofuel production in the US and South America has prompted us to invest in their seed markets.

We already have research stations in several states. Developing the best white and yellow maize varieties is Pannar’s biggest focus. We were the first in to develop and market hybrid maize varieties, and our hybrids’ local success has pushed the business beyond the country’s borders. This has allowed us to form partnerships with other international companies that do genetic research on crops, who share their research with us. Biotech research is very expensive and genetically modified (GM) seed is subject to stringent laws.

Partnerships with biotech companies in various countries improve our ability to license GM products there. These companies also keep Pannar informed of their particular country’s needs in terms of crop and seed types, such as drought-tolerant or disease-resistant varieties. In SA, production conditions vary regionally, so we have research and development facilities in all the main grain-crop production areas to develop seed best suited to specific areas. Pannar’s products not only cater for commercial farmers, but also for developing and subsistence farmers.

All Pannar’s seed laboratories are ISO 9001:2000 certified. This is a quality management system of the International Standards Organisation. Independent organisations monitor our quality control and our products are checked by the International Seed Testing Association, which guarantees farmers get the physical and genetic quality they paid for. Looking toward the next 50 years, Pannar is fully aware that technology is continually evolving, with niche markets demanding crops that are drought-tolerant and pest- and disease-resistant, and give better yields while remaining environmentally friendly.

Pannar also wants to develop products that can boost subsistence farmers to commercial production levels. still accounts for 70% of the Pannar group’s income, and we’re very aware of what this country’s farmers need. Pannar is a truly South African company, developing products for farmers. |fw