- Pannar and Pioneer will combine germplasm pools.
- Pioneer to establish technology hub in Africa.
- Africa has 86m acres available for maize planting.
DUPONT and Pannar Seed Ltd. announced that they have closed on a transaction in which DuPont Pioneer acquired majority ownership in Pannar, a South Africa-based seed company.
In 2010, DuPont announced an agreement to purchase Pannar Seed (Feedstuffs, Sept. 27, 2010) and has been seeking approval of the merger since that time.
Pioneer and Pannar are partnering to increase the pace and scope of research and innovation in the African seed industry. Under the deal, Pioneer will retain the strong Pannar brand and will grow both the Pioneer and Pannar brands and businesses into the future.
The majority share acquisition will allow each business to access additional crop areas, reach more customers and deliver improved seed products to farmers, the announcement said. Pannar will receive access to the Pioneer genetics library and its maize breeding and biotechnology capabilities. Pioneer, meanwhile, will tap into Pannar's expertise and reach across Africa and its maize genetics developed specifically for the region.
"This is good news for Pannar customers, for our employees and for Africa," Pannar chairperson Brian Corbishley said. "This partnership will ensure long-term growth as we deliver improved products to farmers in South Africa and across the continent."
"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 center of innovation in seed breeding," DuPont Pioneer president Paul E. Schickler said.
Pioneer committed to investing 62 million rand (South Africa's currency) by 2017 to establish a technology hub in South Africa to serve the region, similar to the research hubs Pioneer has established in Brazil, India and China.
The Africa technology hub will comprise a network of research facilities and testing locations in South Africa and around the continent, with Delmas, South Africa, serving as the technology center of the network.
The network will be infused with leading research and development technologies that shorten breeding cycles and improve accuracy toward breeding targets, such as doubled haploids, ear photometry and the proprietary Pioneer Accelerated Yield Technology system, as well as genetic breeding technologies like marker-assisted selection, the announcement said.
The technology hub will incorporate key Pioneer and Pannar research and testing locations, plus combined germplasm — or plant genetic resource collections — talent and experience to improve cultivar breeding and development for Africa.
"A critical benefit of this partnership will be the newly energized 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," Schickler said.
Data sharing and analysis will be elevated to a new level as the Africa technology hub is connected to the Pioneer global research and development network, the announcement said. Research efforts will support all crops for which Pioneer and Pannar currently maintain breeding programs, including maize, sunflower, grain sorghum, forage sorghum, wheat, dry beans and soybeans.
"By partnering with Pannar, Pioneer will be able to better support agricultural productivity and rural economies and livelihoods through the development of higher-performing products for Africa's farmers," Schickler said. "Our research organization will learn from Pannar's experience in Africa and, in turn, include Africa in our skills development efforts. 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."
Pioneer currently works with six academic institutions each year — four in the U.S. and two internationally — to host a plant breeding symposium to foster development of research skills.
Starting in 2014, Pioneer plans to add an additional educational breeding symposium to be hosted by a South African institution. Pioneer also is developing additional scholarship and fellowship opportunities for African plant breeders.
With 86 million acres available for maize production, Africa represents a significant opportunity for improved productivity. Average grain yields are less than two tons per hectare — about one-third of the yields achieved in other developing regions and only one-fifth of yields in developed countries.
In addition, maize seed demand is strong and growing. In South Africa alone, annual hybrid maize seed sales total about $350 million.