Vegetable seed provider East-West Seed topped a global survey which measured and compared efforts of the world’s leading seeds companies to make high-quality seeds more accessible to smallholder farmers.
The Access to Seeds Index 2016 published recently showed that East-West Seed was ranked No. 1 in two indices: Global Index for Vegetable Seed Companies and Regional Index for Eastern Africa.
“Due to the nature of its business model, in which smallholder farmers are the primary customers, the company has developed a robust governance and strategy system around access to seeds,” the report read.
“It prioritizes the needs of smallholder farmers in the development of both local and global crops,” it added.
The Access to Seeds Index Foundation, which published the report, noted that local smallholder farmers are involved in the company’s production activities, with 90 percent of farmers participating in seed production. The foundation is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dutch government.
East-West Seed also carries out research and development (R&D) for all global index vegetable crops in its portfolio, as well as seven local crops in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
“The company’s collaboration with Rijk Zwaan in the Afrisem breeding program is innovative due both to the focus on local crop development for Eastern Africa and the fact that two competitors are working on this development together,” the report read.
Despite its strong performance, the foundation said East-West Seed discloses a limited amount of information publically, providing most information only on engagement.
“The company can improve its Transparency score by disclosing more information publicly, especially on its governance and accountability, marketing and sales, local seed sector advancement and R&D activities,”
the report read.
East-West Seed Co. Ltd. was founded in the Philippines in 1982, but moved its headquarters to Thailand shortly afterward. More recent, the company has expanded its operations to other tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
Syngenta and Bayer CropScience followed East-West in the Global Index of Vegetable Seed Companies, while Victoria Seeds and East African Seeds ranked after the company in the Regional Index for Eastern Africa.
DuPont Pioneer ranked first in the Global Index of Field Crop Seed Companies, its position primarily determined by its strong breeding program focusing on the regions where smallholder farmers are active. Syngenta and Bayer CropScience also made it to the top companies under this index.
The Access to Seeds Index identified four regions with food-security challenge, smallholder-farmer presence and agricultural potential, namely, Latin America, Western Africa, Eastern Africa and South and Southeast Asia.
Its findings showed that the seed industry, as a whole, is active in all these regions, with the exception of Western Africa.
Published on: March 1, 2016