International deal to bolster local barley breeding
Australian cereal breeding company InterGrain has entered into a barley breeding collaboration with international agribusiness Syngenta that will give the Australian industry access to advanced technologies and elite international germplasm.
The collaboration will enable Syngenta and InterGrain to develop innovative varieties and solutions that will help barley producers globally to increase productivity and reduce costs.
Under the agreement, InterGrain will be responsible for all breeding in Australia using both InterGrain and Syngenta germplasm, while Syngenta will gain exclusive rights to commercialise new InterGrain barley varieties and rights to commercialise existing InterGrain varieties outside Australia.
InterGrain chairman Dale Baker says the collaboration will integrate InterGrain’s barley breeding expertise and proven germplasm with the world-class malting barley and commercialisation capabilities that have made Syngenta Europe’s market leader.
“This partnership has the capacity to deliver new varieties with superior yield and quality attributes, which will provide long-lasting productivity gains for growers,” Mr Baker says.
InterGrain’s acting chief executive officer, Tress Walmsley, says InterGrain has been actively seeking an alliance with a global bioscience technology company to expand its breeding program and deliver more rapid improvements in barley variety performance.
“Australian barley producers will benefit from the initiative, which will combine two complementary germplasm pools,” Ms Walmsley says. “The outcomes of the collaboration will better meet the needs of Australian barley growers through conventional breeding by targeting improvements in yield performance, disease resistance and end use qualities.”
Syngenta’s chief operating officer John Atkin says the partnership will build on the strength of the company’s broad portfolio to realise untapped technology potential. “The collaboration will enable us to share our assets and capabilities to develop innovative crop-based agronomic solutions for barley growers across the world,” he says.
InterGrain’s investment in Australian barley breeding goes back 50 years to the launch of the Department of Agriculture barley breeding program in Western Australia. The company has since developed the program to become a national leader in crop breeding and is committed to delivering elite barley varieties to growers.
Ms Walmsley is confident that this focus, coupled with Syngenta’s 20-year involvement in barley and continued investment in new grower-tailored technologies, will help to ensure a competitive edge for Australian barley growers in both domestic and international markets.
She says any new varieties arising from the collaboration would be covered under Australia’s Plant Breeders’ Rights arrangements.
“The InterGrain–Syngenta partnership will not change the current end point royalties and supports farmer-to-farmer trading; however, seed trading of future varieties will be assessed on a state and individual variety basis.”
Ms Walmsley says Syngenta has not taken an equity position in InterGrain, and she confirms that decisions on research and breeding will continue to be made by the management and board of InterGrain. “Syngenta will contribute to these decisions, and the WA Government and GRDC will maintain an appropriate influence on decisions through their shareholding,” she says.
The InterGrain barley breeding program will operate separately to the InterGrain wheat breeding programs, with processes implemented to ensure confidentiality obligations of all parties are upheld.
The initial seven-year agreement between InterGrain and Syngenta came into effect in June 2012. InterGrain plans to engage with Barrett Burston Malting to discuss potential opportunities that may arise from the collaboration.
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