Jun. 19, 2012
Rasi Seeds and Evogene Ltd. (tase:EVGN) today announced a collaboration, focused on increasing yield and drought tolerance in rice. Pursuant to the collaboration agreement, candidate genes discovered by Evogene for these key traits will be introduced into Rasi Seeds pipeline for the development of improved hybrid rice. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Rice is one of the most important grains for human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of all calories consumed worldwide. Over 50 percent of the world's population is dependent upon rice for 80 percent of its nutrition. Much of the world's rice crop is still dependent upon rainfall, therefore changes in weather patterns can alter the delicate balance between world supply and demand, significantly affecting rice trade and price. India is one of the leading producers of rice, having the largest area under rice cultivation worldwide.
Under the collaboration, Rasi Seeds will be granted a license to candidate genes, identified and prioritized through Evogene's ATHLETE(TM) computational genomic technology and validated in model plants. Rasi Seeds will integrate the licensed genes into its R&D pipeline and evaluate them in rice field trials. The agreement provides Rasi Seeds the right to commercialize hybrid rice incorporating these genes in India and in additional countries in southern-east Asia. Evogene will be entitled to receive milestone payments and royalties based on the sales of resulting products.
"We are pleased to collaborate with Evogene to introduce new technologies and excel our research and development in rice hybrids," stated Dr. M. Ramasami, CMD of Rasi Seeds. "With Rasi's leaderships in hybrid seed products in India, this collaboration serves our goal to expand into a multi-crop quality research to contribute the farming community and the industry, primarily in India. Rasi will continuously invest in R&D and new technologies for the sustainability of food production in India."
"We are very pleased to enter into this collaboration with Rasi Seeds, one of the major seed companies in India. India and south-east Asia are key and strategic markets for improved rice seeds and we are excited to have the opportunity to bring our technology to these markets in collaboration with one of the leading companies in the region," stated Mr. Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO. "Considering the critical importance of rice for human nutrition in this rapidly growing region of the world, we believe that by addressing key traits, such as improved rice yield and drought tolerance, we can contribute significantly to increasing production and thereby benefiting both growers and consumers worldwide."