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TerViva was featured in Forbes article on the Top 25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups. Click the link below to learn more about TerViva and the other companies doing awesome work in the Ag-Tech space. 

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Florida growers are constantly looking for alternative crops to diversify and find new markets. With pest pressure and increased competition challenging traditional crops, that hunt is becoming more intense. Some alternatives might work, while others will not, but it is good to know folks are on the lookout for new crops suited for the Sunshine State.

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Alexander & Baldwin Inc. has entered into a partnership with California-based TerViva to cultivate pongamia on 250 acres of former sugar plantation lands in Central Maui.

The tree, which is native to Asia and was introduced to Hawaii over 100 years ago, could potentially address the state's need for renewable fuels, bioenergy and diversified agriculture, according to a statement from Honolulu-based Alexander & Baldwin (NYSE: ALEX), which closed down its Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. operation and held its last sugar harvest at the end of last year.

The test project, which was announced on Wednesday, intends to confirm pongamia's agronomic suitability, while also determining production costs and yields at commercial scales. A&B said that initial planting is expected to start later this summer. The project could be expanded to 2,000 acres or more.

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Hawaii Gas Co. said recently it expects to act on plans to integrate biogas from the city’s Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant into its pipeline. 

“We are figuring out ways to take waste and turn it into useful forms of energy,” said Joseph Boivin, senior vice president of business development and corporate affairs at Hawaii Gas. “There is more of this type of work that can be done in Hawaii.”

State Consumer Advocate Dean Nishina recommended in March that the state Public Utilities Commission approve the fuel supply agreement between Hawaii Gas and the City and County of Honolulu under which the utility would buy biogas from the city. Biogas is a fuel made up of roughly 60 percent methane and 40 percent carbon dioxide, which the sewage plant had been capturing and burning off.

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CLEWISTON, Fla.—Faced with two existential threats—a disease that depletes citrus trees and a dramatic decline in orange-juice consumption—Florida’s citrus industry is seeking alternatives from olives to hops, pomegranates to peaches.

Peter McClure, who grew up in a family of citrus farmers, has joined a new venture that is looking to pongamia, a tree native to India and Australia that produces oilseeds similar to soybeans. “It doesn’t look like citrus is viable for most of us now,” Mr. McClure said. 

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Fortune Magazine speaks with TerViva Co-founder and CEONaveen Sikka about TerViva's plan to help feed the world more sustainably through the use of new crops and bioinformatics. 


TerViva's Will Kusch sits down with ThinkTech Hawaii to explain what Pongamia trees are and how they will help Hawaii reach its goal of one billion dry tons of biomass for energy consumption. Watch the interview here.


Federal and state officials gathered to applaud the groundbreaking of an electric power generation plant at Schofield Barracks on Monday that will be run on 50 percent biofuel and 50 percent fossil fuel.

Gov. David Ige, who attended the groundbreaking, said the new plant is a move in the right direction.

“The fact that the plant is 50 percent biofuel means that the plant is using 50 percent less in fossil fuels,” Ige said. “That is a positive step toward our goal of achieving 100 renewable energy by 2045.”

Ige said the state may be closer to producing larger quantities of biofuels than originally planned due to companies like TerViva, which grows biofuel crops on 300 acres on the North Shore of Oahu, and Hawaiian Commercial &Sugar Co. on Maui committing to use some of its land to grow biofuel crops.


July 2, 2016

The Answer is Hanging on the Trees – The Importance of Pongamia

ThinkTechHawaii.com interviews TerViva's Lila Taheraly on TerViva™'s work in Hawaii establishing pongamia as a local source of fuel, vegetable oil, and animal feed. Watch the interview here.


October 16, 2015

New Oilseed Harvested

Canola growers could soon be facing competition from a new type of oilseed.


A California company will be harvesting its first commercial crop of pongamia next year, a leguminous tree species that produces oilseed pods.
 “The oilseeds have a very similar amino acid profile to soybeans,” said Naveen Sikka, chief executive officer of TerViva™, Inc.
 The seeds contain 40 percent oil that is high in oleic acid. The trees produce eight times the oil and two times the protein per acre as soybeans.


TerViva™ believes the crop has the potential to surpass global palm oil production with significantly lower environmental impacts.


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TerViva™, a Hawaii-based startup developing and commercializing crops that can grow sustainably on unproductive agricultural land, won the 2015 MaiTai Maui Tech Night pitch competition on Wednesday. 

MaiTai Maui Tech Night is the signature annual event of mbloom, the Maui-based venture capital fund. The event is part of the statewide Startup Paradise initiative to build an innovation economy and ecosystem in Hawaii.


The agriculture industry is currently in a conundrum. There is a rising global demand for food and fuel, but the land area where crops can be grown has diminished over time.

TerViva™ is one company that is looking to solve this global challenge. According to the company, TerViva™ helps growers “convert distressed agriculture land into productive acreage by growing an oilseed crop called pongamia.”

In plain English, the company produces a crop called pongamia that is very similar to soybeans, except that it can produce as much as eight times more oil per acre. The crop is actually harvested like a tree but uses less water and fertilizer than a tree would normally need, making it highly sustainable. The company’s vision is to create a highly scalable, profitable and sustainable source of vegetable oil and protein.


Unsuitable for human consumption but with a high oil yield, is pongamia the next big biofuel on the block?  

Pongamia: a crop that could produce six times more oil per acre than soyabeans or another 'miracle' crop along the jatropha line destined to disappoint farmers? Pongamia has indisputable advantages over other oilseed crops, but its relative obscurity in the biofuels arena means the crop has had limited testing in the field. 

USA, California-based TerViva™ is one company working with the crop. CEO Naveen Sikka tells Oils & Fats international that his company has developed special varieties of pongamita trees that produce between 30-40% oil. 


The Yield Lab, the nation’s first agriculture technology business accelerator, today announced its first five participating companies. The companies were selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants from around the world and, according to Yield Lab, reflect the accelerator’s mission to promote solutions for a healthier, more sustainable future globally.

The Yield Lab is a nine-month program that supports emerging AgTech companies with up to $100,000 in funding, an Agriculture (Ag) specific curriculum, one-on-one mentorship, free workspace and networking opportunities.

TerViva™ – TerViva™ is commercializing a perennial tree grown on underproductive agricultural land called Pongamia. Pongamia produces an annual harvest of pods, which can be crushed to produce animal feed and oil used for biofuels.


Some U.S. diplomats, once they leave their overseas posts, go on to become think-tank experts or academics affiliated with well-known universities. Others take jobs as high-powered lobbyists in Washington. Anne Slaughter Andrew chose another route. The first woman ever to represent the United States as ambassador to Costa Rica now runs a venture that hopes to convert the seed oil of pongamia trees into biofuels and other money-making byproducts.

TerViva™, based in Oakland, California, has been in business since 2009. Andrew helped start the company with her husband Joe – former chairman of the Democratic National Committee – but had to resign in 2010 upon her confirmation as U.S. envoy to Costa Rica. She rejoined the company as chairman earlier this year following her June 2013 retirement from the State Department.


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At the Global Ag Conference in New York this year, the CEO of TerViva™, Naveen Sikka, was asked to speak for a few minutes about his company.  He began by asking the audience, "How many here would believe me if I said there was a new crop that could produce 6x more oil per acre than what soybeans produce?"  A few hands went up.  He then asked, "How many here would believe me if I said there were tens of thousands of acres with irrigation all set up to grow this crop, but were sitting idle?"  No hands went up.

The new crop he was referring to was an oilseed tree called pongamia.  And the tens of thousands of acres he was referring to were the abandoned (and dying) citrus acres in Florida that have been suffering under multiple diseases -- the worst being HLB - also known as citrus greening. Read more.


From a tree that grows on dormant farmland to an app that saves farmers hours in surveying, these innovators are finding breakthrough ways to improve life on the farm. Read more.


Orange-juice futures rose to a two-year high after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that the crop in Florida, the world’s second-largest grower, will shrink to the lowest since 1985 amid crop disease. Read more.