Arcadia Biosciences and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation Enter into Agreement for Development of Improved African Rice
Agreement to Build Upon Existing Compensation-Free License Agreement for Nitrogen Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant Rice By Engaging in Critical Development Activities
DAVIS, Calif. and Nairobi, Kenya (December 2, 2008) – Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., an agricultural technology company focused on products that benefit the environment and human health, and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), a not-for-profit organization focused on the access and delivery of new agricultural technologies for African smallholder farmers, today announced an agreement in which Arcadia will perform technology development activities for Nitrogen Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant African rice.
In April 2008, Arcadia provided a compensation-free technology license to AATF for the development of improved rice varieties, which AATF will offer to smallholder African farmers royalty-free. This new agreement expands the relationship between the organizations and will expedite the development of the crop technologies for a world region that is struggling to feed its people.
Under the agreement, Arcadia will perform plant transformation, greenhouse trials and field trials in the United States, and will work alongside AATF-contracted researchers in Africa to facilitate a rapid technology transfer process.
"Arcadia has proven its ability to develop Nitrogen Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant crop varieties that perform exceptionally well in the field. They have the expertise, resources and experience with these important traits that can speed the development of improved African rice and get them into the hands of the region’s farmers who need them," said Jennifer Thomson, interim executive director of AATF. "Expanding our relationship with Arcadia from a license provider to a full development partner is an excellent example of how public-private sector relationships can have positive and far-reaching effects on African food security."
Rice is one of the most cultivated and important African food crops. Rice consumption on the African continent is growing by 6 percent annually and has created an annual shortage of 6.5 million metric tons, which is imported at an annual cost of about $1.7 billion. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa produce between 12 and 17 million metric tons of rice annually. Most of this rice is produced and consumed by small-scale farmers who are often constrained by the cost and availability of new technologies that could help them increase food output. Low soil nutrient content and salt-impacted soils have lead to a decline in crop yields, according to a 2006 African Fertilizer Summit report. Availability of NUE and Salt-Tolerant rice can help alleviate these agricultural pressures on African farmers and can minimize the Continent’s dependency on food imports. At the same time, Arcadia’s Salt-Tolerance technology can reduce the amount of fresh water needed to grow crops, and its NUE technology can mitigate the potential for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions that accompany the use of nitrogen fertilizer.
"Improving food security in the developing world in an environmentally sustainable way is one of our founding principles. Climatic conditions, population growth and the lack of new technologies on the African continent have created significant challenges in the ability of African farmers to feed its people. Depleted soil nutrients and salt-impacted soils are two factors contributing to these challenges. As more time passes, the problem exacerbates exponentially," said Eric Rey, president and CEO of Arcadia. "The AATF’s mission of bringing new agricultural technologies to the African continent is directly aligned with our philosophies. By driving development of NUE and Salt-Tolerant rice we can do our part to improve African food security in a way that helps protect the environment."
About Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.
Based in Davis, Calif., with additional facilities in Seattle, Wash. and Phoenix, Ariz., Arcadia Biosciences is an agricultural biotechnology company focused on the development of agricultural products that improve the environment and enhance human health. For more information, visit www.arcadiabio.com
The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)
is an African-led charity designed to facilitate and promote public/private partnerships for the access and delivery of appropriate proprietary technologies with potential to increase the productivity of resource-poor smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. (www.aatf-africa.org).