Ospraie plots funding strategy after $125m ag exploration – exclusive

Ospraie Ag Science could opt to raise a dedicated fund or utilize alternative operating company structures, a source tells Agri Investor.

Ospraie Ag Science plans to formalize a funding structure by the end of this year, for the three-pronged investment strategy it has so far pursued using largely internal capital since 2017.

The firm’s varied investments to date are united by a strategy that has distinct pillars devoted to sustainable crop inputs, controlled environment agriculture and soil diagnostics that have the aim of enabling farmers to “do more with less,” Ospraie Management founder Dwight Anderson told Agri Investor.

OAS is the agricultural venture arm of commodities-focused hedge fund Ospraie Management. A source familiar with OAS told Agri Investor the firm has deployed more than $125 million across at least 10 investments as part of its strategy, for which it is now actively seeking partners and co-investments to advance.

The firm has created an institutionally acceptable format and governance regime, said Anderson, and expects to reach a decision this year on what structure is best suited to supporting OAS. A source familiar with the firm said OAS could opt to raise a dedicated fund, or it may utilize alternative operating company structures.

“When we first started this, we didn’t know what scale of capital we could put to work. We didn’t know what quality of investments we’d see,” said Anderson. “The opportunity set we see is getting to the point where it is beyond our capital and internal scale.”

OAS has pursued its ag venture strategy to date in part by drawing capital from a vehicle called Ospraie Ag Science, which held $84 million drawn from 42 legal entities as of an October regulatory filling. Anderson said this capital includes his own personal investments, those of his OAS colleagues as well as other current and former Ospraie employees and associates.

OAS’ investments thus far have included biological inputs supplier Plant Health Care, containerized farming-focused Freight Farms and BeeFlow, a company that aims to improve bees’ immune systems and train them to pollinate specific crops, among other investments.

Most recently, OAS provided seed financing to Agragene, a San Diego-headquartered startup that uses CRISPR-based gene editing, to breed sterile male pests that are delivered via drone into fields to mate with wild female crop pests.

See here for an extended interview with Ospraie founder Dwight Anderson about the firm’s ag strategy.