Iribov has had a production location in Ghana for a number of years. The location is used for the propagation of tissue culture. Most of the production will go back to the Netherlands for the customer network in Europe, but during the last three years the company explicitly also started to focus on the local market in West Africa. In addition to rapid propagation, one of the main reasons for using tissue culture is the production of disease-free and vigorous starting material and there is certainly a market for that. Kees Veldhuijzen, who has been entrusted to further develop the business there and is spending a large part of his time is Ghana, talks about the project.
A breeder does good business when he can deliver the varieties his clients ask for. In the past, this would mean walking through the trials with a wish list, now it generally means putting his material under the microscope. It is there, with the help of increasingly precise techniques and calculation models, that he can work faster and with more precision.
One of the techniques that has been at his disposal for years now, is flow cytometry. This technique can be used to see how much DNA and sets of chromosomes – ‘ploidy’ in technical terms – a certain part of plant material contains. That information in itself can already be used to answer essential questions, telling the breeder if it’s useful to go further down a certain road, and whether the expectations he has of his breeding programs, are realistic.
Over the last few months, Iribov has given its laboratory a substantial upgrade and has expanded the greenhouse facilities considerably. The glass building in Heerhugowaard (Netherlands) has grown to nearly a hectare and with 21 distinct departments it offers a wide range of applications. "This enables us to offer our customers new possibilities and we are expanding our service portfolio," says commercial director Kees Veldhuijzen.
The importance of clean and qualitatively strong production material is increasing because more and more diseases and pests are arising. The demands that other countries place on plant material from the Netherlands are also becoming stricter. One of the ways to respond to this is production from tissue culture.
Tissue culture is the propagation of crops in laboratories under sterile circumstances. The major benefit is that the material is produced uniformly and free of viruses. A positive result of that, is that the amount of pesticides used is smaller later in the production, which is good both ecologically and socially. Moreover, for some crops that can’t be propagated from seeds or for which the process of propagation is (incredibly) slow, it can be a way to speed up the entire process.