SENSAKO is primarily engaged in the breeding and the commercialization of agronomic crops which it markets under the brand name SENSAKO. Our vision is to optimize both cereal and oilseed production and profitability for the benefit of grain producers and processors alike. We boast some of the most experienced seed expertise particularly in wheat where our wheat breeding team comprises 60% of the senior wheat breeders in South Africa and with over 150 years of combined experience.
Sensako wheat cultivars also account for approximately 80% of all wheat grown in South Africa. A key component to the groups' success are the excellent relationships with other international wheat breeding programs from where new and valuable germplasm has and will continue to be sourced.
Sensako's wheat breeding strategy, known as modified pedigree selection, incorporates key breeding technologies which, coupled with the use of molecular marker selection and high throughput quality analytics maximizes efficiency and productivity.
The programs focus on producing wheat varieties for the key commodity and quality markets in South Africa, incorporating key agronomic characters such as increased yield, adaptability and consistency, straw strength, milling and baking improvements and disease resistance.
Sensako currently has a range of commercial cultivars and there are several pre-commercial cultivars from the irrigation, Cape and winter breeding programs.
Sensako was acquired by Syngenta Seeds in August 2020. Syngenta is one of the worlds's leading agricultural companies operating in more than 90 countries.
Sensako's breeding programs are operationally serviced from two sites. Bethlehem (Marnè Research Farm) where the Analytics Laboratory, Tunnel complex, Irrigation and Winter wheat and Summer crop programs are based, and Napier in the Western Cape where the Doubled Haploid and Cape breeding programs (wheat and oats) are based.
Sensako operates currently a business model whereby varieties protected by Plant Breeders' Rights are multiplied into commercial certified seed by contract growers, and these products are sold to grain producers the following planting season via brokers and selected agri-businesses.
Benefits from wheat breeding programs include yield and extraction improvements (which have profitability implications for farmers, millers and bakers, and may very well have impacts on National Food Security and Balance of Payment considerations, as SA is a net importer of wheat), disease resistance, baking qualities and physiological and agronomic adaptation to local conditions.
A 1% increase in yield translates to approximately 20 000 tons more wheat that is produced in South Africa. A 1% increase in extraction (flour produced through the milling process) yields approximately 15 000 tons more flour based on current South African wheat production.
Sensako currently receives a grant from the Winter Cereals Trust that is financed through a statutory levy on each ton of wheat that is either imported or delivered in South Africa. The Winter Cereals Trust is represented by stakeholders from the wheat producers, bakers, millers and bakers. Whilst the Winter Cereals Trust cannot guarantee financial support to any research program due to the nature of the Trust's income by means of the statutory levy, they have indicated that "the quality of outputs obtained from the Sensako wheat breeding program over years and the high quality of human resources involved in the program, will have an influence on possible future support to the program".
The Plant Improvement Act 1976 (Act No. 53 of 1976)