(Photo: Chinese farmers planting soybean varieties from Don Mario breeding company)

Buenos Aires, May 7th. Last week, the team of Don Mario ended the planting of its soybean varieties in the North of China, the biodiversity origin region of this specie. “Some time ago we decided to be in all the soybean producer countries. We started in Latin America, and continue in the US, Canada, Europe and Russia. And we considered that it was time to landing in China and India, two huge soybean producer countries. We had conversations with representatives of the Chinese government in Argentina and last year we travelled to China to understand how soybean production is run”, Ezequiel Pozzo, agronomist in charge of the Chinese project, commented in dialogue with eFarmNewsAr.

He said that they realized that varieties planted in the North of the US (North and South Dakota) and South Canada, varieties from Group Maturity 00 to II short, could performed well in Heilonjiang, Xiling and Inner Mongolia provinces (in the North of China), which concentrates 70% of the national soybean acreage, estimated at 8 million hectares. Also, other plots were planted in Henan, in the south of the country.

Around 70 varieties are been tested this season in China. Of course, they are no GMO, because China bans the transgenic production. “In fact, this is an opportunity for Don Mario because since more than 10 years ago we conduct a non GMO program which is the base of our germplasm. Consider that 45% of the soybean planted in South America contains our germplasm, which is the platform for the different traits that biotechnology companies offer”, Pozzo explained.

The Don Mario agronomist explains that soybean production in China is run by small scale farmers, who they have asigned no more than 8 or 10 rows in the farm, which is State-owned. Yields not surpass 2,500 kilograms per hectare while at the same latitude, US farmers are harvesting until 4,500 or 5,000 kilograms using the same maturity groups.

“Both planting and harvesting are hand-made. I consider that they not use inoculants or other input technologies. But their black and deep soils, well provided of organic matter, would allow them to reach the same yields that in the US”, Pozzo commented.

In this stage, Don Mario, one the leading soybean breeding global company, is only testing its varieties. Its plan is to build a strong relationship with China’s farming chain based in confidence and cooperation. “Currently, Chinese Government allow us to conduct investigation on soybean breeding. One of the opportunities is the access to the local germplasm for crosses and breeding of new varieties. But for a commercial stage we will have to ally with local partners. Furthermore, China don’t allow to bring its germplasm to foreign markets”, he added.

Currently, the Don Mario team is working to open their first experimental station in China, probably in Harbin city, a place that is reference in plant breeding, and the capital of Heilongjang province.

“When we say that 25% of the soybean imported by China contains our germplasm, the reaction is very positive. We are confident that we will have develop a profitable relationship with the local players”, Pozzo concludes.

Photo: Ezequiel Pozzo giving the Don Marios’ corporate book to an Agriculture Chinese Ministry officer.