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DuPont to Advance Agricultural Research and Technological Innovation in Africaqrcode

Aug. 1, 2013

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Aug. 1, 2013

DuPont to Advance Agricultural Research and Technological Innovation in Africa

DuPont and Pannar Seed (Pty) Limited recently closed on a transaction in which DuPont Pioneer acquired majority ownership in Pannar, a South Africa-based seed company with operations throughout Africa and in other parts of the world. This is a significant milestone in DuPont's commitment to bring technological innovation to agriculture in Africa.

DuPont Pioneer and Pannar are partnering to increase the pace and scope of research and innovation in the African seed industry, bringing farmers in South Africa and throughout the continent more product choices and better products, faster and more efficiently than either company could do on its own. Pioneer will retain the strong Pannar brand and will grow both the Pioneer and the Pannar brands and businesses into the future.

DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler said, "The partnership between Pioneer and Pannar is beneficial on many levels. 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."

The majority share acquisition will allow each business to access additional crop areas, reach more customers and deliver improved seed products to farmers.  Pannar receives access to the Pioneer genetics library and its maize breeding and biotechnology capabilities.  Pioneer 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," said Brian Corbishley, chairperson of Pannar. "This partnership will ensure long-term growth as we deliver improved products to farmers in South Africa and across the continent."

Technology Hub to be Established for Africa Under a Unified Research Strategy

"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," said Schickler.

Pioneer committed to investing R62 million (South African Rand) by 2017 to establish a technology hub in South Africa to serve the region, similar to the research hubs that 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 in which Delmas, South Africa, will serve as a technology center of the network. The network will be infused with leading R&D technologies which shorten breeding cycles and improve accuracy toward breeding targets, such as doubled haploids, ear photometry and the proprietary Pioneer Accelerated Yield Technology or AYT™ System, as well as genetic breeding technologies like marker-assisted selection.

"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," said Schickler.

The technology hub will incorporate key Pioneer and Pannar research and testing locations, combined germplasm - or plant genetic resource collections - talent and experience to improve cultivar breeding and development for Africa. Data sharing and analysis will be elevated to a new level as the Africa technology hub is connected to the Pioneer global R&D network.  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.

"Pannar has long been known as leader in plant breeding in Africa, boasting a rigorous multi-location research trial program," said Corbishley. "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."

"We will continue to focus on developing solutions for the most important issues faced by Africa's farmers, including those practicing low-input farming as well as more intensely managed commercial operations," said Corbishley.

Urgent Need to Support Agricultural Knowledge-Exchange and Productivity in Africa

"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," said Schickler. "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 United States and two internationally - to host a plant breeding symposium to foster research skills development. Starting in 2014, Pioneer plans to add an additional educational breeding symposium to be hosted by a South Africa institution. Pioneer also is developing additional scholarship and fellowship opportunities for African plant breeders.

Pannar conducts collaborative research with academic institutions in South Africa and works closely with various public and private institutions in other countries in Africa.  It provides in-house skills development training, in addition to its scholarship programs principally aimed at attracting students to the multidisciplinary field of agricultural science.

With 86 million acres¹ (35 million hectares) available for maize production, Africa represents a significant opportunity for improved productivity. Average grain yields are less than 2 tons per hectare, about one-third of what is 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 U.S. $350 million.

This investment is part of the DuPont strategy to deliver innovative solutions for some of the world's most important challenges, including the need for increased food production. DuPont has committed to invest U.S. $10 billion globally in research and development dedicated to the food, agriculture and nutrition sectors and advancing 4,000 new products by the end of 2020; supporting training and education opportunities for youth around the world, and working with farmers to improve the livelihoods of families in rural communities.


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