ImpactAlpha, March 28 – California-based TerViva is giving a bitter legume a market while, giving farmers an income opportunity for low-quality and fallow land. The company has raised $20 million in Series D funding from The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, a group of agricultural family offices including Evans Properties, and existing investors Elemental Excelerator, the Yield Lab, Astia Angels, and Allotrope Ventures.
TerViva partners with farmers to cultivate pongamia trees, a type of high protein legume-producing tree most commonly found in Asia and Australia. The company then buys back the crop and processes it for consumption, as a cooking oil and a high-protein animal feed.
The pods from pongamia trees haven’t been popular for consumption, due to their bitter taste, AgFunderNews reports. The company’s plant removes some of the bitter taste compounds during processing. Pongamia is also a highly resilient plant, able to grow in nutrient poor soils and with thick roots that can withstand extreme weather conditions.
TerViva has 150,000 trees under contract with farmers in Florida, and expects to have 200,000 more trees in the state in the next 24 months. Farmers are contracted to grow the crop on abandoned agricultural land. The company has been targeting citrus farmers in the state, who were hard hit by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and who may be vulnerable to climate change. TerViva is also eyeing partnerships with farmers in Hawaii.