SA, US firms in agri-tech hub deal

1 August 2013

DuPont Pioneer, the largest US producer of hybrid seeds, has acquired majority ownership of South Africa’s Pannar Seed as the two companies move to advance agricultural research and technological innovation in Africa.

The deal, announced on Wednesday, involves the two companies partnering to bring farmers in South Africa and across the rest of the continent more choices and better products in terms of seeds.

Pannar has established strong operations throughout Africa, and DuPont will build on this foundation through the deal.

“The partnership between Pioneer and Pannar is beneficial on many levels,” DuPont Pioneer president Paul Schickler said in a statement on Wednesday.

“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 be able to access the DuPont genetics library and its maize breeding and biotechnology capabilities, and DuPont will tap into Pannar’s expertise across Africa and its maize genetics developed specifically for Africa.

‘SA as a centre of innovation’

“One of the key outcomes of the partnership will be the establishment of a world-class technology hub for Africa through which South Africa will become a centre of innovation in seed breeding,” Schickler said.

DuPont Pioneer will invest R62-million by 2017 to establish the hub.

“The Africa technology hub will comprise a network of research facilities and testing locations in South Africa and around the continent in which Delmas, South Africa, will serve as a technology center of the network,” the US firm said.

“A critical benefit of this partnership will be the newly energised product pipelines for Pioneer and Pannar that will flow from combining the companies’ complementary germplasm pools and leveraging the expanded research infrastructure and network under a unified research strategy,” said Schickler.

Data sharing will also form part of the deal, as the Africa technology hub will be connected to DuPont’s global research and development network.

“Applying the advanced breeding technologies and data-sharing infrastructure of Pioneer to our breeding programs will greatly strengthen the capacity of both brands to continue to meet farmers’ demands for high yielding varieties that offer improved disease resistance, drought tolerance and the ability to withstand varying degrees of insect pressure,” said Pannar chairperson Brian Corbishley.

Skills development of African farmers will be a key focus of the technology hub.

“We will train local scientists in our world-class technologies, enabling them to learn from our global research program, as well as encouraging academic programs in plant breeding,” Schickler said.

SAinfo reporter