Israeli agritech firm aims for big boost in crop yields
Gal said Kaiima had managed to achieve a crop's stability by respecting the integrity of its original DNA. Kaiima expects that its technology will result in an initial 25 percent improvement in crop yields.
Asked by Reuters about Kaiima's breakthrough claim, five experts in the field of agricultural genetics at leading Israeli academic institutions declined to comment, saying they did not have enough information about the company's work.
One scientist confirmed Gal's statement that attempts to speed up genome doubling had been tried for decades but added that neither he nor any other researcher he knew of had managed to unlock the secret for doing it successfully.
Stronger plants have been developed during genome doubling attempts in the past, but Gal said their lack of genetic stability meant they could not produce seeds for subsequent generations.
Kaiima's main centre is based in a cluster of portable cabins in a farming community in northern Israel's agricultural heartland. The company has taken over a number of fields at various locations in the area for its crop experiments.
In its rice crop trial, Kaiima planted seed variants and breeders picked out the best results to continue laboratory work on the most successful strains.
Alon Lerner, Kaiima's senior breeder, displayed an enhanced yield of bigger plants and grains. He said they had received the same amount of water and nutrition as crops to which the technology had not been applied.
Kaiima's recent injection of cash has come from three new investors: Horizons Ventures, which manages the private technology investments of Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, the World Bank's private sector arm International Finance Corp (IFC) and Infinity Group, a China-focused private equity fund.
It also received new funds from existing investors that include DFJ, DFJ-Tamir Fishman, Mitsui, KPCB, Oberlee and Musea Ventures.
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