Bernheim Farm in Paarl officially opened Western Cape’s first Tissue Culture Facility, funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has allocated a once-off contribution of R10 million towards the infrastructure and key equipment required for a quarantine accredited Tissue Culture Facility (TFC) which will improve the competitiveness of the Deciduous Fruit sector and its ability to penetrate global markets.
The TFC will create the opportunity to multiply and provide quarantine compliant plant material to local industry and for neighbouring states which will also create a gateway to Southern African Development Communities (SADC). This will further enhance the Western Cape’s standing as a key player in internationally accredited plant material trade and development.
To achieve the target of creating new plants with desired characteristics, these plant tissue culture techniques will ensure improved crop yield and quality.
Tissue culture is a very rapid plant multiplication technique. Thousands of plantlets can be produced from a small amount of plant tissue within a few weeks and new sought-after cultivars can be supplied to existing and newly accessed markets.
Given the realities of climate change, this will ensure the ability to rapidly multiply climate-adapted and drought-resistant cultivars and rootstocks, thereby improving the industry’s ability to compete and supply the international trade, including sub-Saharan Africa.
The new plants produced by tissue culture are disease and virus-free, therefore optimising production of cultivars which satisfies quarantine concerns of the international trade.
The new production facility will ultimately have the ability to produce 3 million plants annually and will create 30 permanent jobs.
This is a sterling example of creativity and innovation in our agricultural sector despite the challenges at hand.