BASF Plant Science and Bayer CropScience announced a long-term collaboration agreement to improve rice productivity through plant biotechnology. The companies aim to develop and commercialize hybrid rice seeds with traits enabling yield advances of 10 percent or more over conventional hybrid rice seeds. In this global, non-exclusive agreement, BASF Plant Science licenses yield-increasing technologies to Bayer CropScience for commercialization in Bayer CropScience’s Arize hybrid rice. The agreement encompasses all major rice growing geographies, with first products expected to be launched by 2020.

Within the scope of the agreement, BASF Plant Science is responsible for the research and development activities leading to the selection of higher-yielding rice traits, and for obtaining the regulatory approvals needed for commercialization. Bayer CropScience will integrate these higher-yielding traits into leading Arize rice hybrids. The companies will communicate and work closely with key rice stakeholders as the products near commercialization. The final products will be brought to farmers by Bayer CropScience. Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

”We are very happy to announce Bayer CropScience as our first partner in bringing higher yielding rice to farmers around the world,” said Marc Ehrhardt, Senior Vice President at BASF Plant Science. “BASF has a great portfolio of superior yield enhancing and stress tolerance genes that we have already screened in rice plants. With Bayer CropScience, we now have a partner with a strong market position and long-term experience on our side.”

”In our efforts to contribute to securing the world´s food supply in the 21st century, we are committed to improving rice productivity using multiple approaches,” said Joachim Schneider, Head of the BioScience Business Unit at Bayer CropScience.  “We are already a market leader in hybrid-rice with Arize, and we intend to enhance our hybrids further through the development and integration of important traits, including those developed through plant biotechnology. As we accelerate the extension of our seed business and offerings in this core crop, BASF is a partner of choice.”

Rice is the world’s largest food crop. Half of the world’s population consumes at least one meal of rice every day. According to a forecast by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), an additional 8–10 million tons of rice needs to be produced each year to maintain sufficient quantities to feed people and keep rice prices at an affordable level. Today, the global rice production amounts to about 685 million tons. Hybrid rice seeds are gaining in popularity and market share over traditional varieties due to their ability to produce higher yields. BASF and Bayer CropScience believe that the addition of yield-enhancing traits to hybrid rice will play an important role in meeting the need for increased global rice production.