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DowDuPont to expand seed business in Ethiopia

Targets sorghum, sunflower

Following the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont last year, Corteva Agri-science, a newly formed agricultural division of DowDupont has expressed its plans to consider supplying sunflower, sorghum and soybeans in addition to the long-existing hybrid maize seed business in Ethiopia.

Launching the operations of Corteva Agri-science in Ethiopia earlier this week, Prabdeep Bajwa, president of Corteva in Africa and the Middle East, said that the company is eyeing the supply gap in the seed business in Ethiopia and hence is planning to expand accordingly.

Prior to Corteva, DuPont Pioneer under its Pioneer Hybrid Seed has been in the Ethiopia seed business for over 25 years. When asked why Corteva is zooming in on Ethiopia’s market now? The president said that it is only a refocus of its previous operations and existence in Ethiopia. Corteva is coming out to be a standalone agricultural company and will reorient its previous business model to include industrially viable seeds that process edible oil and other food stuffs. According to Bajwa, Corteva has already introduced sunflower seeds to agro processing firms.

Melaku Admasu, country leader for Corteva Agri-science in Ethiopia, also said that for over two decades, the company was supplying maize seeds to over one million smallholder farmers. The merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont sheds light to the expansion of market outreach in Ethiopia and beyond. The existing facilities in the outskirts of Addis Aelm, 50km from Addis Ababa, a three ton per hour seed processing capacity, is expected to further expand to 100 tons per hour and that will swell Corteva’s  dominated seed market in Ethiopia.

According to Melaku, Corteva currently holds a 4o percent market share for maize seeds. During a visit to the facilities, officials and seed distributors have requested executives of Corteva to consider soybean and sorghum stating that the supply shortage is immense despite the growing agro-processing subsector. Currently, the government of Ethiopia is finalizing the construction of four major integrated agro-processing parks and it is feared that there would be a shortage of seeds and other agricultural raw-materials that could potentially feed the processing factories. But Melaku pledged that Corteva is considering venturing in required seeds based on the market potential and requirements.

Corteva is expected to spinoff as a standalone agricultural company from the DowDuPont conglomerate in 2019. It has prioritized Africa and the Middle East region as one of the major market segments for its future operations. When European market is included, both Africa and the Middle East constitute a 20 percent market share from the global space, Bajwa added. 

It is to be recalled that Dow and Dupont finalized a USD 130 billion merger last September to form DowDuPont. The merger would produce three independently traded firms, concentrating on agriculture, plastics and specialty products.