A. Sampson - Weekly Times Now
Two of the world's leading vegetable experts have travelled down under to inspect Australia's fresh produce.
Vice president of technology development for Monsanto Vegetables, Dr John Purcell, and head of Monsanto’s global technology for tomatoes, Joost van Regteren, conducted field visits during the past two days.
In a whirlwind three-day visit the pair travelled to tomato and capsicum farms in Queensland, answering questions from farmers, and putting Australian vegetable production into a global context.
Dr Purcell said one of the major concerns facing tomatoes around the world was the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl virus.
“It can be really devastating to growers and can get out of hand quickly,” Dr Purcell said.
“Our best defence is developing resistant varieties, which helps farmers and consumers.”
He said the pressure to develop varieties of all vegetables that were both resistant and maintained good flavour and appearance was growing continually.
“People have come to expect a lot from the food they’re buying and those expectations will only get higher and higher,” Dr Purcell said.
“We don’t want farmers to have to choose, we want them to have the full package.”
Over the years Dr Purcell has had a big impact on global vegetable seed development.
Recently he has worked on the development of products such as broccoli with a higher nutrient value, smaller capsicums to reduce waste and a lettuce with all the crispiness of an Iceberg but the nutritional benefits of a Romaine.
“Most of the questions we’ve received over the past few days have related to the pipeline,” Dr Purcell said.
“People want these products yesterday, not next week.”