Syngenta announced that it will acquire MRI Seed Zambia Ltd and MRI Agro Ltd (MRI), a leading developer, producer and distributor of white corn seed in Zambia. The white corn market has high growth potential and the crop is critical to Africa's future food security.

Syngenta Chief Operating Officer, John Atkin, said: "This acquisition reflects our commitment to sustainable development in Africa, which is clearly emerging as the continent with the greatest growth potential.

"Smallholders and larger farmers in Zambia will quickly benefit from the combined innovation of MRI and Syngenta in seeds, seed care and crop protection. This will also provide the foundation for integrated crop solutions responding to the needs of African farmers."

MRI Managing Director, Vladimir Ristanovic, said: "MRI´s success is directly linked to Zambia´s stable socio-political environment which has supported the development of one of the most vibrant seed industries in Africa. MRI is excited about the opportunity to further improve the availability of advanced technologies for corn growers in Zambia."

MRI's corn germplasm is among Africa's most comprehensive and diverse, incorporating temperate, tropical and sub-tropical material. This unique portfolio will be developed to support expansion in high-growth East African markets and may be leveraged globally through Syngenta's elite breeding programs.

In 2012, Syngenta committed to creating a $1 billion business in Africa by 2022, contributing to the transformation of agriculture by increasing access to technology and enabling the development of rural communities. A key goal is to help five million farmers increase productivity by 50 percent or more, while preserving the long term potential of the land.

Syngenta will make cumulative investments of over $500 million in support of this undertaking, including the recruitment and training of over 700 new employees.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close by the end of 2013. No financial details were disclosed.