FarmHannong Co., a South Korean crop protection and fertilizer producer, will open its first offshore research center in Thailand as part of efforts to enhance its competitiveness in the burgeoning global agricultural biotechnology market.
The Korean company said Tuesday it will set up a new research entity in Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand, with an aim to open what would be its first overseas research center by the end of this year. The new research unit will focus on crop breeding including genetic improvement as well as agricultural chemical research, according to the company.
The company has chosen Thailand as its first global research center destination because the Southeast Asian country’s warm climate makes it a perfect environment to conduct multiple tests, said a company official.
FarmHannong commands a leading share of 24.3 percent in the local pesticide market and 15.1 percent in the fertilizer market as of September 2017. The company operates a research center in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province and Anseong, Gyeonggi Province.
FarmHannong is currently under Korea’s top chemical firm LG Chem Ltd. after the chemical company acquired the full stake in the agribusiness leader for 424.5 billion won ($396.9 million) in 2016. LG Chem’s move came in line with the rising trend among global chemical companies, including the U.S.’s DowDuPont, Germany’s Bayer, and China’s ChemChina, to apply their chemical and biotechnology capabilities to agriculture.
Agricultural biotechnology involves using scientific methods such as genetic engineering to produce genetically-improved crops, eco-friendly pesticides and feed additives. The global market is worth around 120 trillion won and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent.
By Kang Doo-soon and Kim Hyo-jin
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