MONHEIM, GERMANY — Bayer CropScience has announced plans to build a breeding center in Australia focused on wheat and oilseeds. The €12 million ($17.4 million) facility will be built in the Wimmera region of Victoria, in the southeastern corner of the country.

Bayer said the center will target the development of new, higher yielding varieties “tailored to Australian conditions.” The facility will serve as the center for Bayer wheat/oilseed breeding activities. The company has entered into a long-term rental agreement for land on which to build the laboratory and glasshouse facilities with Longerenong College and Workco Ltd. Fully staffed, the facility will have as many as 20 full-time employees, Bayer said.

“With the demand for wheat and oilseeds growing worldwide, we drive our efforts towards producing new high-yielding varieties that are better able to withstand pests, diseases and able to thrive under environmental stresses like drought,” said Mathias Kremer, head of the BioScience business unit at Bayer CropScience. “We are convinced we can help make wheat and oilseeds farmers in Australia and beyond more productive and sustainable and thus contribute towards feeding this hungry planet.”

Bayer said construction of the breeding center will begin in the months ahead with initial local breeding programs expected to yield results for Australian farmers “within the decade.”

Bayer already has wheat and oilseeds breeding stations in North America and Europe and plans further expansion especially for wheat in Asia and Latin America in the medium term, the company said.

The company noted about 25% of the world’s agricultural land is used to grow wheat, making it the most widely grown crop globally.