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ZeaKal forms partnership with Gro Alliance

Partnership will help accelerate adoption of ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed trait, say company officials.

ZeaKal is creating what it terms as a “NewType” of agriculture – based on higher value and supply chain harmonization – to expand its advisory board and partner with Gro Alliance,  an independently owned contract seed corn and soybean seed production company. 

“To meet the needs of today’s growers, producers, and consumers, we need a more equitable, resilient food system that prioritizes value over volume without overwhelming our planet,” said Han Chen, ZeaKal cofounder and CEO, in a news release. “By building a NewType of agriculture that is more attuned to the end user, we can fully realize the value of our innovations and do our part to sustainably nourish the world’s growing population.”

ZeaKal announced the expansion of its advisory board to ensure the right insights and leadership across the supply chain have a seat at the table. New advisers include Jim Schweigert, president of Gro Alliance and second vice chair of American Seed Trade Association, and Gordon Denny, who served as director of procurement at Bunge and currently advises the United Soybean Board and U.S. Soybean Export Council.  

“Agriculture has seen significant innovation in the tools and technology farmers use, and yet important crops like soybeans have experienced year-over-year deterioration in quality and continue to experience a race to the bottom,” said Denny in a news release. “I’m proud to be part of ZeaKal’s vision to share increased value across the entire system, while improving the health and environment for future generations.”

Closed Loop System 

ZeaKal is building a closed loop U.S. system to capture and share premiums from better composition, processing advantages, and improved sustainability metrics with farmers and producers, said ZeaKal officials. With this initial partnership, Gro Alliance’s fully integrated seed production and distribution establishes a foothold with an experienced and dedicated grower base, say company officials. This partnership underscores the need to diversify farmer incomes and address consumer demands for nutrient-rich crops and sustainably sourced grain, say company officials.

“For the past 80 years, we’ve helped growers access innovation to stay competitive, and yet the current system disincentivizes the adoption of new technologies that create value beyond just yield,” said Schweigert in a news release. “Through this partnership, we will help ZeaKal accelerate the adoption of PhotoSeed to enhance and diversify profitability for growers while building a stronger long-term soybean market in the U.S.” 

Beyond Gro Alliance’s U.S. footprint spanning eight states from North Dakota to Indiana, its global operations provide ZeaKal with access to additional counter season seed expansion in Latin America. Soybeans with ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed trait will become available to U.S. farmers in the 2024 growing season.

“This partnership is the first step in building a community striving to grow nutritious food while improving the livelihoods of everyone along the supply chain,” said Chen. “Gro Alliance ensures that our NewType agriculture system starts with the farmer.” 

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