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Seed companies contribute to revitalize research center

Hideo Takahashi first came to the Skagit Valley more than a quarter century ago to be an intern at the Alf Christianson Seed Co.

As a young employee of Sakata Seed, he spent a year in the Mount Vernon area working on a joint venture breeding project for spinach in the Asian market with Alf Christianson Seed. He improved his English skills and gained a better understanding of the American seed industry.

Takahashi moved on to work at Sakata Seed America in California and rose through the ranks to become president of the nearly 100-year-old, international corporation in 2000.

In 2002, Alf Christianson Seed Co. became a subsidiary of Sakata Seed Corp. Today, they are joining forces to support the Washington State University Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center.

Sakata Seed Corp. and Alf Christianson Seed Co. together will donate a total of $100,000 to sponsor the pathology lab at the center. The lab will be named in their honor – the Sakata Seed Corporation and Alf Christianson Seed Company Vegetable Seed Pathology Laboratory.

The gift acknowledges a long, fruitful partnership, according to Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “This generous gift recognizes years of cooperation between these leaders in the vegetable seed industry and Washington State University,” he said, “and it sets the stage for many more years of partnering in the future.”

Takahashi agreed. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the center for being an important partner with us in so many initiatives, including diagnosing of disease, improvement in cultural practices and in securing pesticide registrations, to name only a few,” he said. “Over the years, we have truly benefited from our relationship with the center and look forward to continued opportunities to support each other.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the $8 million revitalization project was held June 1. The revamp includes construction of modern work spaces for agricultural and horticultural research and extension faculty currently serving the five-county region and the state, who are housed in older, over- crowded facilities.

Approximately $1.5 million of the total NWREC project cost will come from private donations. A committee composed of local citizens and WSU representatives is spearheading the fundraising effort.

Sakata Seed Corp. has established a research, production and sales network worldwide. Its headquarters are in Yokohama, Japan.

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