REHOVOT, Israel and CAMPINA GRANDE, Brazil, Oct. 20, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Brazil's leading agricultural research institution, and Evogene Ltd. (NYSE:EVGN) (TASE:EVGN), a leading plant genomics company specializing in enhancing crop productivity for the food, feed, and biofuel industries, announced today the signing of a joint research agreement between Embrapa and Evofuel Ltd., Evogene's wholly-owned subsidiary, for the advancement of castor cultivation in Brazil. The cooperation will primarily focus on technologies for controlling castor-specific diseases as well as practices for castor cultivation in rotation with soybean.
The global market for castor oil has tightened over the past few years with industrial demand, in Brazil and internationally, exceeding availability and production. Presently, castor is cultivated on approximately 100,000 hectares (approximately 250,000 acres) in Brazil, an area that can substantially increase with the introduction of advanced varieties and new-modern cultivation practices, as being addressed by Evofuel in the past years.
The agreement is set to bring Embrapa's substantial experience in research and development of castor together with Evofuel's proprietary castor varieties, which are adapted to mechanized harvest and modern agricultural protocols, to offer Brazilian growers a full-scale solution for an economically viable, sustainable, and large-scale cultivation of castor.
Cultivation of castor in rotation with soybean (second crop or 'safrinha' crop) consists of planting Evofuel's advanced castor varieties after harvesting the soybean crop. The target area for this rotation system is in the region of MATOPIBA (States of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí, and Bahia) in the northeast and central regions of Brazil, where approximately five million hectares (over 12 million acres) are estimated to be suitable for castor cultivation.
"Embrapa has been working for three decades on castor research and development in Brazil, achieving remarkable progress in many areas, including fertilization, weed and disease management, added value to by-products, and genetic resources," said Liv Severino, Chief of Research and Development of Embrapa Cotton. "The joint work with Evofuel will promote synergy between the two partners and will consolidate our commitment to turn castor into a highly viable crop for Brazil's expanding agriculture."
Commenting on the agreement, Assaf Oron, General Manager of Evofuel, said: "We are very pleased to join forces with Embrapa, which has a tremendous track record in developing research-based technology solutions for Brazilian agriculture. A key to the large-scale adoption of castor is the ability to cope with various stresses, such as diseases and weeds. We see in Embrapa's extensive local knowledge and dedicated researchers a great asset that complements our proprietary know-how and expertise, and will assist us in optimizing and accelerating our solution for castor growers."
The collaboration with Embrapa follows three years of successful field trials of Evofuel's castor varieties in Brazil. The trials demonstrated the suitability and economic benefits of growing Evofuel's proprietary castor varieties as a second crop with soybean for production of oil feedstock for biofuels and other industrial uses. In March this year, Evofuel announced an agreement for the commercial production of castor in 2016 with SLC Agricola, one of Brazil's largest landowners and agriculture businesses.
Since its inception in 1973, Embrapa has generated and recommended more than nine thousand technologies for Brazilian agriculture, reduced production costs, helped Brazil to improve food security whilst conserving natural resources and the environment, and diminished external dependence on technologies, basic products, and genetic materials. Please visit Embrapa's website for additional information: www.embrapa.br
About Evofuel Ltd.
Evofuel is engaged in the development and commercialization of high yielding castor seeds as a cost-competitive, sustainable, and second-generation feedstock for the growing biofuel market. It has built its castor genetic assets based on a broad collection of over 300 castor lines from over 40 different geographic and climatic regions. As part of its development process, Evofuel applies advanced breeding methods utilizing cutting-edge plant genomics capabilities together with agro-technique expertise to enable efficient and sustainable large-scale production of castor. Initially established in 2007 as a division within Evogene Ltd. (TASE:EVGN), Evofuel was spun out as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2012. For additional information, please visit Evofuel's website at: www.evo-fuel.com
About Evogene Ltd:
Evogene (NYSE:EVGN) (TASE:EVGN) is a leading company for the improvement of crop quality, productivity, and economics for the food, feed, and biofuel industries. The Company has strategic collaborations with world-leading agricultural companies to develop improved seed traits in relation to yield and abiotic stress (such as tolerance to drought), and biotic stress (such as resistance to disease), in key crops such as corn, soybean, wheat and rice. In addition, Evogene has earlier stage operations in agriculture chemicals and seeds for second generation feedstock for biodiesel. For more information, please visit: www.evogene.com
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CONTACT: Karen Mazor, Evogene Director, Public and Investor Relations T: +972-54-2288039 email@example.com Liv Severino, Embrapa Chief for Research and Development T: +55 83 3182-4304 firstname.lastname@example.org