DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — DuPont Co. said that it has
completed the purchase of a majority stake in South Africa’s Pannar Seed and
aims to boost research efforts and improve seed availability for farmers in
DuPont said its Des Moines, Iowa-based Pioneer subsidiary
acquired an 80 percent stake in Pannar Seed Ltd., which has operations
throughout Africa and in other parts of the world.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but DuPont Pioneer
President Paul Schickler said it is one of the largest deals in the subsidiary’s
history and DuPont’s largest investment on the African continent.
With 86 million acres available for corn production, Africa
represents a significant opportunity for improved productivity.
Average grain yields are about one-third of what is achieved
in other developing regions and only one-fifth of yields in developed countries.
In addition, corn seed demand is strong and growing.
In South Africa alone, annual hybrid corn seed sales total
about $350 million. The deal will allow each company to access additional crop
areas and reach more customers.
DuPont Pioneer plans to invest $6.2 million by 2017 to
establish a technology hub in South Africa to serve the region, similar to
research hubs that the company has established in Brazil, India and China. The
hub will incorporate Pioneer and Pannar research and testing locations, combined
plant genetic resource collections, and staff to improve plant breeding and
development for Africa.
The Africa technology hub will be connected to the Pioneer
global research and development network, sharing data and analyzing research
results. Research efforts will support all crops for which Pioneer and Pannar
currently maintain breeding programs, including corn, sunflower, grain sorghum,
forage sorghum, wheat, dry beans and soybeans.
The companies also have committed to investing another $2
million to help farmers with small operations learn how to use hybrid seeds and
adjust practices to get the best use of the new seed technology.
Pioneer will retain the Pannar brand and will expand the
Pioneer and the Pannar brands and businesses.
“The partnership between Pioneer and Pannar is beneficial on
many levels,” Schickler said in a statement. “It represents growth opportunities
for both businesses, for employees and for the productivity of small-scale and
commercial farmers who form the backbone of Africa’s economy and who will feed
the continent’s rapidly growing middle class and increasing population.”
Pannar will receive access to the Pioneer genetics library
and its corn breeding and biotechnology capabilities. Pioneer will tap into
Pannar’s expertise and reach across Africa, and its corn genetics developed
specifically for the region.
DuPont said it has committed to invest $10 billion globally
in research and development dedicated to the food, agriculture and nutrition
sectors and to advancing 4,000 new products by the end of 2020.
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