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Chemical giant DuPont (DD - Analyst Report) has opened a newly expanded research facility at Delmas, South Africa. The facility will serve as the core of the DuPont Africa regional technology center. The center will help DuPont in its efforts to speed up seed product development for Africa's farmers.

The new technology center will also enable DuPont to help in managing the primary challenges faced by the agriculture industry including pest and disease pressure, climate volatility and nutrient-depleted soils. The center will exploit DuPont's global science capabilities and resources and will create local solutions for the farmers in South Africa and throughout the continent.

Delmas, which comprises of a network of DuPont Pioneer and Pannar research facilities and testing locations throughout Africa, will serve as the central hub of the regional technology center. The center will help in developing the seed research and development (R&D) product pipelines for DuPont Pioneer and Pannar. The DuPont Pioneer business will invest a total of R62 million (about $5.8 million) in the South Africa center by 2017.

The technology center will utilize leading R&D technologies, such as doubled haploids, ear photometry and the proprietary Pioneer Accelerated Yield Technology System. It will also use genetic breeding technologies, including marker-assisted seed selection, to help shorten crop breeding cycles and improve accuracy towards breeding targets.

DuPont Pioneer plays a major role in the company’s focus on expanding its leadership in the science-driven segments of the agriculture-to-food value chains. It has been a leader in developing innovative decision services over the past ten years.

DuPont currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the chemical industry include Methanex Corp. (MEOH - Analyst Report), Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY) and The Dow Chemical Company (DOW - Analyst Report). While Methanex carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Akzo Nobel and Dow retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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