TerViva develops new crops for underproductive agriculture land. The world relies on agriculture for food, animal feed, raw materials, and renewable fuel. Every year, certain agriculture land becomes unusable, due to changing environmental conditions and markets. For example, the FAO estimates that 1 to 2% of all agriculture land every year becomes indefinitely unusable due soil salinity. TerViva re-establishes the productivity of these types of land, using hardy, “drop-in” crops that create valuable intermediates for fuel and raw materials.

Company details

436 14th Street, Suite 900 , Oakland , California 94612 USA

Locations Served

Business Type:
Industry Type:
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
Year Founded:

Our vision is to create the world’s most scalable, cost effective, and environmentally friendly source of vegetable oil and protein.

We take underused land and make it productive again. There are 200,000+ acres of abandoned citrus land in Florida and 100,000 acres of former sugarcane land in Hawaii. We are working with growers in those markets by planting a legumeous tree crop called pongamia that produces oil and protein. Our technology is a combination of high yielding cultivars, true-to-type tree production and downstream product IP. We like pongamia because it requires only 10-20% of fertilizer and water that’s need in farming soybeans while producing 8x higher yield per acre.


Florida: Citrus acreage is disappearing at an alarming rate due to disease. Over 500,000 acres lost (50% loss in 10 years).

Hawaii:  Sugarcane abandoned due to cost of production and competition. 100,000 acres lost (85% loss in 20 years).

Growers and landowners want alternative crops to generate return on their land. The opportunity for pongamia in Florida and Hawaii is $1.2BN annually.

Our solution:  We grow a hardy, high yielding oilseed tree crop called pongamia

At TerViva, we develop high-yielding cultivars of pongamia and plant them with interested growers and land owners.  Pongamia easily “drops in” to their existing operations, utilizing the same field setups and infrastructure.  TerViva then processes the seed pod harvest into vegetable oil and protein seed cake, which is sold to third parties for usage in fuels, chemicals and animal feed.

TerViva is currently working to establish pilot projects and commercial size acreage in Hawaii and Florida -- geographies where the need for a new crop and the proper climate for pongamia intersect.

TerViva was recently chosen by The Yield Lab, an ag-tech business accelerator, to be in its first class of companies.  TerViva has also received a grant from the Energy Excelerator, a business incubator focusing on energy innovation startups, to plant a commercial scale pongamia orchard on the island of Oahu. The Energy Excelerator is supported by the Department of Energy, Department of the Navy, and PICHTR (Pacific International Center for High Technology Research).


Our Trees

Native to India and Australia, pongamia is a long-living tree that produces an annual harvest of seeds that are similar to soybeans. On a per-acre basis, pongamia produces eight times the amount of oil than a soybean with a fraction of the inputs (water, fertilizer, pesticides, etc.) and is thus cheaper to maintain while being much more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

TerViva has compiled an exclusive library of high-yielding, patentable pongamia genetics from around the world and has developed propagation techniques for scalable, consistent results. The core of the IP platform is the elite pongamia genetics, which are iteratively advanced through a number of exclusive partnerships. TerViva is also working on a molecular marker program to identify traits for breeding, such as oil yield and salt tolerance.

High Yielding Trees

  • Up to 100kgs of seed pods per tree per year
  • 400 gallons of oil per acre
  • 8x the production of soy
  • Potenital to surprass the production of palm, with significantly lower environmental impacts

Hardy & Vigorous Growth

  • Extensive root system adapted to long dry season
  • Demonstrated tolerance of saline soils
  • Insecticidal and nematocidal properties reducing need for pesticides
  • Nitrogen-fixing bacteria in roots reduce need for fertilizer

High Quality Seed

  • Seeds contain 40% oil, high in oleic acid
  • Seed cake high in protein
  • Variety of downstream applications; biodiesel, crop sprays, lubricants, biopesticides, animal feeds

We use pongamia to “grow oil”, combining agriculture with chemistry to produce clean fuels and green chemicals -- while at the same time restoring underproductive land and creating jobs in rural communities. Pongamia oil contains long-chain fatty acids that are well-suited for conversion into biodiesel, renewable diesel, high-performance surfactants, and lubricants. Once removed of oil, the residual pongamia seed cake is high in both nitrogen and protein, and has proven value as a fertilizer and animal feed supplement.


We offer landowners and growers a scalable, low-cost, turnkey platform:

  • High-yielding, proprietary pongamia varieties
  • Intellectual property on tree cultivation and processing
  • Automated harvesting
  • Use of land in low rainfall areas with limited irrigation
  • Use of land in areas with degraded or compromised soils
  • Minimal use of expensive fertilizers and pesticides
  • Proprietary relationship with market leaders in biofuels, biochemicals, and animal feeD


The heart of any crop development program is germplasm selection.  Together with our partners, we have evaluated pongamia varieties in their native environments for over a decade, carefully cataloguing various important agronomic traits such as growth, shape, disease and pest resistance, flowering, seed yield, and seed oil content.  The best pongamia varieties were then subjected to clonal propagation, in order to deploy 'true to type' varieties in fields.  Through a 2011 National Science Foundation grant, we also began to develop molecular markers for pongamia breeding in collaboration with UC Davis and Texas A&M University.