The story of Bertha
‘Releasing a new hybrid is very rewarding’
Bertha Beganyi has been working for Rijk Zwaan since 2014. She is responsible for selection of hot peppers. In her role, she can continuously surprise the market – and sometimes even herself.
Colours and shapes
“I studied microbiology and botany, which is a perfect background for the work that I am now doing. There is so much diversity in peppers! When making new crossings, the outcomes are sometimes very surprising in terms of colours and shapes. But we have to look at more than that. Thrips, for instance, are a very big problem for farmers, as are viruses such as CMV and PVY. By developing natural resistances we can decrease the use of chemical crop protection and make African horticulture more sustainable.”
The breeder's preference
“To make the right choices in breeding, it is very important to work together. There are a lot of details that we have to deal with and, to be successful, we need everyone’s help! At the same time, there is also what I call ‘the breeder’s preference’. Sometimes you have to follow your instinct and try something new. After all, we’ve only just started with this breeding programme. There is still so much to explore...”
“In the end, the most rewarding feeling is to release a new variety onto the market, where it can help growers to become more successful. I also visit growers myself so that I can use their input to make further improvements. But sometimes it is a challenge to find the time. After all, new plants might already be ready for assessment and they won’t wait for you!”