Plant Health Products is a relatively small company specializing in
producing biological control products. It is based near Nottingham
Road in the scenic Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The company's products are currently being sold in South Africa,
Kenya, Zambia and Namibia, with trials being conducted
Vision and Mission
Vision: To create, produce and market biological control agents and
probiotics for crop production, which are effective, easy-to-use
and can be marketed globally.
Mission: To provide the clients with well researched and developed
biological solutions for agricultural challenges. To create and
market easy-to-use, effective biological control agents and plant
probiotics, based on sound science, comprehensive testing and
meticulous quality control. The products will have a global market,
with a primary base in the South African market.
The concept of Plant Health Products was initiated in 1998 by
Professor Mark Laing and Dr Mike Morris. It was a union of the
knowledge and expertise of these two experienced scientists that
led to the formation of the company. Mark Laing, at the University
of KwaZulu-Natal, had conducted 10 years of research on biological
control of crop diseases using the fungus Trichoderma harzianum and had reached a stage where a product was ready to be
commercialized. Mike Morris had worked for 25 years leading the
government research programme on biological control of invasive
plants using fungal agents. He already had experience in producing
and registering two fungal based products and became the Managing
Director of PHP.
Government research funding was accessed through the Innovation
Fund of the Department of Science and Technology enabling the
company to register its first two products for plant disease
control, Eco-T and Eco-77. A second government grant later led to
the development of three potential products for insect pest
A pilot production plant was built at Nottingham Road and was
gradually expanded to its current form. This plant comprises a
well-equipped laboratory, numerous temperature controlled rooms and
growth chambers for producing the fungi and other agents, autoclave
facilities for sterilization of equipment, drying facilities, plus
storage space and offices. Production techniques are designed to
follow the particular organism's natural growing conditions as
closely as possible. In this way optimal vigour and shelf life of
the organisms are attained.
The company reached a point where the mass production processes
were running like clockwork and then set its sights on more active
marketing. Michelle Paterson, who has a background in Plant
Pathology and agricultural marketing, is handling the
marketing side, actively promoting the products in South
Africa and various other countries around the world.