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Biological Acquisitions during the International Year of Plant Health (Overseen as a Year of Pandemic)

Vipin Saini
Vipin Saini

The year of a declared Pandemic, yet businesses continued to make decisions, such as when to invest in new capacity or technology, and the need for information is always there. In some ways, it’s more acute during a recession, with the burning question being: when is this going to end?

The 2012 initialisation by Bayer Crop Science’s to make a mark in the biologicals sector by acquiring AgraQuest in an attempt, Syngenta’s acquisition of Italian biostimulants pioneer , Valagro in the last quarter of 2020 has followed.

As crop protection companies’giants’ inclination towards biologicals was evident earlier this year became evident by Corteva Agriscience announced it was looking towards building a new biologicals portfolio through similar acquisitions or marketing arrangements globally.

American Vanguard’s acquisition of Agrinos; the sale of Oro Agri to Rovensa Group by Omnia. A busy year for Rovensa, which itself was acquired by private equity firm Partners Group. Rovensa acquired Grupo Agrotecnologiá in April 2020.

In the irrigation sector , Reinke Manufacturing acquired Ace Irrigation & Manufacturing in February 2020. Lindsay and Farmers Edge expanded their digital partnership during the year.

In the specialty fertilizer sector, Anglo American acquired Sirius Minerals, the UK company building a polyhalite mine in the same region as ICL’s Boulby mine. ICL entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fertiláqua, one of Brazil's specialty plant nutrition companies, for approximately USD$120 million. Fertiláqua had been previously controlled by Aqua Capital, an Ag and Food private equity firm.

Distribution agreements for LATAM too were signed. Marrone Bio Innovations signed a commercial agreement with Anasac Chile. There were developments on biocontrol products against some of the world’s most destructive pests, such as fall armyworm and locust.

New trends in had been witnessed by companies wanting to improve their business environment such as fertilizer companies linking up with data companies. In July, the Haifa Group signed a MOU with AgrIOT, a company that develops technology that monitors nutrient deficiencies via smartphone and provides recommendations for treating agricultural crops. ICL acquired Growers Holdings, to enhance its digital service offering through Growers’ agronomic services.

Research partnerships being announced between companies. InnovaFeed and Italpollina partnered in January 2020 with the intention of developing fertilizers and biostimulants.

Funding raised by biocontrol/biostimulant start-ups or established companies during 2020. A stand-out deal was Pivot Bio raising $100 million in May.

2021 is going to be similarly exciting as we look into a tough year ahead to adjust to the new norms of the business world especially in the agriculture sector and the Biological Agri Solutions Association of India (BASAI) is the one too look upon for the Indian agribio market.

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