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Advanta expects igrowth to reshape global sorghum cultivation.

UPL seed business Advanta Seeds has big plans for its non-genetically modified imidazolinone herbicide tolerance sorghum trait, igrowth.

The “first in the world” commercial weed control technology for sorghum grain was developed using mutagenesis by the company’s Argentine research team. “Since then it has been developed and tested in various environments for performance and yield,” points out Advanta’s global strategic marketing and sales excellence manager, Benjamin Marolda.

Advanta launched igrowth sorghum in Argentina in 2017 and in Australia in 2018. “The technology is currently being introduced to many big sorghum regions such as the US, Mexico, Brazil, and South American countries as well as some of the eastern European regions to help boost their environmental opportunities,” says Advanta’s chief executive officer, Bhupen Dubey.

Mr. Dubey expects to launch the technology in the US and Mexico in 2020, subject to regulatory clearances. It is currently being commercialized in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. “South Africa, Russia, and other sorghum areas are under evaluation,” he says.

The company says that igrowth is reshaping the sorghum area globally as it has given the crop competitiveness that it never had in the past. “We are not limited to actual sorghum area, nor only grain as this technology was released in grain sorghum, but we are releasing it also for forages” Mr. Dubey points out. As climate change continues to impact agriculture, sorghum is expanding as one of the most efficient water-using crops, he adds.

When asked if the controversy surrounding new breeding techniques in the EU is likely to cast a shadow on products such as igrowth, Mr. Dubey remains optimistic. “Our technology is not threatened by this gene-editing debate between regulatory agencies as it was developed with traditional mutagenesis techniques,” he says.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice said that new mutagenesis techniques for plant breeding were subject to EU laws on genetically modified organisms. However, the European Commission subsequently said that it neither had plans to amend existing rules nor to propose new legislation in response to the ruling. Meanwhile, EU Ministers have called on the Commission to produce a study on the legal status of “novel genomic techniques” in plant breeding, as the debate continues.

Overcoming weed resistance

For farmers growing a traditional sorghum crop not tolerant to herbicides, some grasses and broadleaf weeds can be controlled with atrazine as a pre-emergence treatment or broadleaf selective herbicides with authorized label extension for the crop, such as 2,4-D, Advanta says. In some geographies such as the US, Argentina, and Australia, the only option for selective grass control is treating the seed with a safener to be able to spray metolachlor or S-metolachlor as a pre-emergent herbicide.

“igrowth opens the possibility of spraying over the top for grass control for the first time in sorghum crops,” says Mr. Marolda. “We recommend igrowth weed control to keep many of these active ingredients and crop rotations as we want to minimize the weed resistance appearance due to excess usage of a single weed control mode of action,” he adds.

Advanta Seeds embeds sustainability into its DNA.

Advanta Seeds acts on sustainability globally supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Advanta Seeds, the UPL seed company, puts its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into action. The company promotes sustainable agriculture and focuses on delivering high-quality seeds and new technologies to support food production while facing climate change and fast population growth.

Access to Seeds Index 2019 ranked Advanta Seeds as No. 4 in South and Southeast Asia and No. 5 in the world for contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goals by providing access to quality seeds and enhancing smallholder farmers’ productivity. This inspired the company to embed sustainability into Advanta’s DNA and to empower its employees to drive meaningful contributions to sustainability.

Advanta Seeds’ parent company UPL supports sustainability and is very active in contributing to the UN SDGs as well as a signatory of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. UPL addresses the global challenges of food security, climate change and environmental degradation with a proactive and long-term sustainability strategy. Advanta Seeds contributes to the UPL sustainable strategy with a clear focus on farmers’ prosperity and food security.

“Hunger is a daily reality for almost one billion people. The global population expects to grow by a further two billion people, precisely in those geographies where there is already food shortage as the UN reports. Advanta Seeds is focusing on farmers who need the most support to grow more nutritional food. This focus is on countries where a majority are smallholder farmers. Supporting smallholders with quality seeds is crucial for global food security.”

Bhupen, CEO for Advanta Seeds.

Responding to smallholder farmers’ needs and developing climate-smart and nutritional crops are high on Advanta’s sustainability agenda. To demonstrate Advanta Seeds’ responsiveness to farmers’ needs, the company partnered with Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT to address pressing issues for tropical corn growers.

Corn growers in tropical geographies of South America, Asia, and Africa have struggled with emerging warm pests as a result of changing biodiversity. Advanta Seeds actively responded and partnered with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT to disseminate a guide on emerging pests.

“Almost 80% of food in Asia, Africa, and South America is grown by smallholder farmers. We understand their challenges and their struggle with resources and a lack of knowledge to be productive. Making quality seeds and new technologies available to smallholder farmers is our mission. We understand that smallholder farmers need to increase their production, secure food for their families and provide for the communities.”

Benjamin Marolda, Global Strategic Marketing & Sales Excellence Manager for Advanta Seeds.

Expert presentations from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT to farmers supported a publication arranged by Advanta Seeds across Colombia and Bolivia. This allowed farmers to monitor and prepare to manage pests and insects to prevent crop infestation. Advanta Seeds aims to distribute the guide in all tropical geographies.

“Agricultural research should focus more on providing practical tools that make it easier for farmers to face phytosanitary problems impacting their yields. The collaboration with Advanta Seeds for sharing essential agricultural research results is important in helping farmers cultivate healthy crops. For the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, it is important to make available agronomy research to farmers,” shared Jairo Rodriguez Chalarca, Research Associate, The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT.

Advanta Seeds realizes that a focus on smallholder farmers, and continued support to their contributions to food security, as well as taking actions to contribute to the UN SDGs through collaborative and innovative solutions is an excellent opportunity for growth.

Chiclayo, Peru. A corn farmer weighs his harvest for the season.

Disclaimer

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