NONG RUA, THAILAND: Leading global vegetable seed firm, HM Clause yesterday (January 9) marked the official opening of its new tropical vegetable seed Research & Development Station in the northeastern Thai province of Khon Kaen with an Inaugural Ceremony and field tour. (Scroll Down for Full Photo Gallery)
Attended by some 100 guests – including representatives from the local community and schools; members of the press; local and provincial government officials; HM Clause Thailand and Southeast Asia employees as well as key seed executives from several other leading companies – the event was held under the auspices of several members of the leading French American seed company’s executive board.
Among them were Mr. Rémi Bastien (CEO – HM Clause); Mr. Franck Berger (CEO Limagrain Vegetable Seeds); Dr. Gilles Gay (VP Global Research and Development HM Clause) and Mr. Daniel Gleeson (VP Asia – HM Clause) – who made ceremonial offerings to Buddhist monks in a traditional site blessing ritual.
Presiding over the event on behalf of the Thai government was the recently appointed governor of Khon Kaen Province, Dr. Somsak Jungtrakul, who gave opening remarks, along with Mr. Berger, Mr. Bastien, Dr. Gay, and Mr. Gleeson, before leading the symbolic ribbon cutting rite. The morning concluded with a field tour for media and seed executives, representing APSA, Chia Tai, Sakata, Nongwoo Bio, East-West Seed and AG Universal among others.
Located about 50km to the west of Khon Kaen city center, the new R&D Station spans 15 hectares of sandy, slightly-acidic soil.
Of this area, nine ha are designated as open fields for breeding lines and adaptation trials, while five hectares will be utilized for breeding and cross pollination activities. Moreover, the station has three hectares designated for isolated (netted) plots that will be used primarily for disease screening, while naturally ventilated poly houses covering 2,000 m2 will be utilized as nurseries.
The site, which will employ about 65 local employees initially, has irrigation and wastewater ponds, pathology, seed processing and storage units and an office.
The station will be used mainly to support breeding for hot and humid crop markets across the world – especially in South and Southeast Asia. Among the strategic crops to be focused on include tomato, hot pepper, cucumber, watermelon, melon and tropical sweet corn.
The development is one of a number of noteworthy ventures seen as a boon for the local economy. One of Thailand’s most developed and populous northeastern provinces, Khon Kaen has been eyed by the Thai government as a strategic MICE, agriculture, logistics and transport junction, which stands to benefit immensely from China’s One Belt, One Road policy.
A more comprehensive story, including quotes and insights, will be featured in Asian Seed & Planting Material, Volume 24, Issue 1, due for publication, February, 2018.