Story of Spar Nigeria

‘Consumers love the unique taste and crunchy bite of Rijk Zwaan cucumbers’

Spar Nigeria partnership Rijk Zwaan

Owned by SPAR Nigeria, Evergreen Dynamic Harvest is a farm that conducts trials of new vegetable varieties which are then consumer-tested in the SPAR Lekki hypermarket next door. A new partnership was formed with Rijk Zwaan at the beginning of this year to trial the Mydas RZ slicer cucumber variety. During the COVID-19 pandemic, seed deliveries suffered significant delays – but the Mydas RZ seeds proved to be well worth waiting for.

Fresh vegetables

Haresh Keswani is CEO of the ARTEE Group, which owns a chain of SPAR stores and malls in Nigeria. These stores sell a wide range of high-quality consumer goods, including fresh vegetables. SPAR already had some involvement with Rijk Zwaan and local seed distributor Seedforth Agro through a local programme, but those activities took a dynamic turn when Rijk Zwaan chain managers Harald Peeters and Jörg Werner visited SPAR in February 2020.

New partnership

Maudline Utaka, agronomist at SPAR Farms, explains: “They suggested ideas, opportunities and possibilities in the world of vegetables, and a new partnership was born that commenced immediately. The goal was to plant Rijk Zwaan’s high-quality vegetable varieties for year-round production on our 20-acre farm. Rijk Zwaan helped me with a plan to grow the Mydas RZ slicer cucumber. For Nigerian consumers, this seedless cucumber is a completely new product.”

Spar Nigeria partnership Rijk Zwaan

Distribution challenges

At that time, the global pandemic was causing major border closures in Nigeria, which made seed distribution extremely difficult. “There were huge queues of traffic at interstate boundaries; everything came to a standstill. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months,” continues Maudline. “Eventually, with the help of an official permit, the long delay came to an end and the seeds were delivered to us in May. That long wait has proved to be worth every single minute it lasted.”

Advice on fertilisation, nutrients and pests

According to Maudline, she was very happy with all the advice she was given: “We received a lot of support from both Seedforth Agro and Rijk Zwaan. When the seeds arrived, travelling was still impossible so Harald Peeters kept in contact with us via WhatsApp and provided advice on fertilisation, nutrient deficiencies and pests and diseases.”

Spar Nigeria partnership Rijk Zwaan

Second to none

Today, SPAR consumers in Lekki love the unique taste and crunchy bite of Mydas RZ. “They recognise these cucumbers as second to none. The quality is high, the shelf life is very good, the size is uniform. And to the delight of the growers, the yield is high,” Maudline says. “Rijk Zwaan has a wide assortment of vegetables that are suitable for Nigeria, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and melons. We’re excited to try out more new varieties. It feels good to share a healthy future together with Rijk Zwaan.”

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