The Zeeuwse Commissioner for the King - Han Polman - opened Nickerson-Zwaan's new allium breeding station in Rilland, The Nehtherlands on Wednesday morning. Onion growers and processors used this opportunity to view the breeding company. This location has been focussed on breeding onions and leeks since 2007, when Nickerson-Zwaan took over Advanta's onion programme. At the new location the activities that were previously spread over multiple locations have been brought under one roof.
Three new halls and installations for processing, drying and storing the onions were among the investments. A 10,000 m2 greenhouse, 6,000 m3 basin and a new growing tunnel and testing fields were also constructed. During the meeting it was apparent that the breeding company's activities are growing rapidly. At the moment new plans are being made for new construction due to a shortage in capacity.
Lando van Doorn
After the opening by Lando van Doorn, Limagrain director - and former Nickerson employee - Huub Beelen spoke about the Limagrain group's, which includes Nickerson-Zwaan, activities. Nickerson-Zwaan has been part of a joint business unit with Hazera Genetics within the Limagrain Group since 2008, and due to the takeover of the American breeding company Global Genetics Nickerson-Zwaan can now offer a worldwide onion assortment.
The competition in order of turnover
The next speaker was CEO Rami Dar of the Israeli sister company Hazera Genetics. The director showed that Limagrain/Vilmorin is second, after Monsanto, in the turnover of vegetable seed companies and indicated that the collaboration between Hazera and Nickerson has an advantage as it is based in two countries with modern agricultural sectors and progressive research. The business unit breeds 12 crops, sells in over 100 countries and has a research budget of 20% of the total turnover, which is 140 million Euro.
The onion is an important crop for Nickerson-Hazera, as after the tomato (25%), onions are worth 15% of the turnover. "Our power is in covering all types of extra day long onions, including all colours, planting onions and winter onions. We are determined to become the global market leader in onion seeds," concludes Rami Dar.
Rami Dar, CotK Han Polman, Mayor Huisman, Hans van den Heuvel
Head of R&D Hans van den Heuvel then spoke about the new breeding techniques. He indicated that the growth of the world population and the increasing onion consumption offers a chance to the onion sector, but that the available agricultural ground and fresh water are possible threats. "New hybrids should limit the business risk and add value to the chain."
Representative André Boot
With a press of the button the Commissioner of the King finally shot an onion into the air to signify the official opening. He congratulated the company on their growth as the Commissioner, but also as a former resident of his hometown Ootmarsum, where many onions used to be processed.