TerViva Raises $2m in Series B to Grow Soybean Alternative on Degraded Land

TerViva, a Californian agribusiness growing pongamia, a perennial legume tree, and processing it for vegetable oil and protein-rich animal feed, has raised $2 million in Series B funding.

A Florida-based family office and established citrus farming business, Evan Properties, led the round which existing investors completed, according to Sudhir Rani, chief financial officer at the company. TerViva is a good fit for family offices that want long term cash flows and to diversify into other parts of agriculture, he added.

TerViva also has a big focus on sustainability and agricultural efficiency: the company plants pongamia on degraded or unproductive land.

For over a decade, citrus farmers in Florida have been hard hit by a disease called huanglongbing from China — known as greening in Florida — forcing many to abandon their land with little alternative; TerViva estimates that 500,000 acres of land was lost as a result. The cost and competition of producing sugarcane in Hawaii has also pushed some 100,000 acres of land out of production.

Pongamia can grow on these lands, however, and is arguably a more efficient source of protein and oil than soybean: it can produce eight times more vegetable oil per acre than soybean, two times more protein animal feed per acre than soybean and used one tenth of the water and chemicals, according to TerViva.