Israel’s Evogene, which specializes in genetic modification of plants for industrial purposes, recently signed a deal with Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) to develop technologies for the advancement of castor cultivation. The cooperation will focus primarily on technologies for controlling castor-specific diseases as well as practices for castor cultivation in rotation with soybeans.
The castor crops’ importance lies in the fact that it is regarded by many to be the perfect crop for fuel production with a high oil yield. Relatively easy to grow, the castor crop thrives on marginal lands where raising food crops can be difficult. Unlike corn grown for biofuel, castor crops do not compete as a food crop.
Brazil has adopted castor in a big way and the crop is currently cultivated on about 100,000 hectares, mostly on marginal lands in the country’s northeast. To meet the increasing demand Brazil is seeking new ways to grow more and better strains of the industrial castor plants.
Here Evofuel, a subsidiary of Evogene, comes into the picture offering proprietary castor varieties, which are adapted to a mechanized harvest and modern agricultural protocols, and thereby provide a solution for farmers seeking to cultivate castor plants economically on a large-scale. A further advantage to be gained from Evofuel’s innovative castor varieties is their potential as a second crop cycle alternating with another tough crop, namely soybean, grown for food. According to Embrapa, approximately five million hectares in Brazil’s northeast and central regions are suitable for this kind of rotation.
Assaf Oron, general manager of Evofuel, noted that the large-scale adoption of castor cultivation excels in its ability to cope with various stresses, such as diseases and weeds. He also pointed out that Embrapa’s extensive local knowledge and dedicated researchers are a great asset in assisting his company to optimize and accelerate the proposed solution for castor growers.
Via the Times of Israel, published on October 23, 2014. Click here for the original article.