For smallholder farmers, access to the seed industry’s products begins with the companies being present in the countries where they farm.
The Access to Seeds Index 2016 showed that global seed companies are present in all Index regions. Only Western Africa lags significantly behind, with six (Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone) out of 14 countries not served at all.
It is not a given that global seed companies enter the markets where smallholder farmers are active. Most companies originate in temperate climate zones and their genetic material might not be suitable for tropical climate zones. An appropriate enabling environment (policy and regulations) is also required. Before varieties can be introduced into a market, they need to be tested and registered.
Similarly, companies need protection of their intellectual property or measures against counterfeit seed. In many countries in the Index scope, there is room for improvement in this respect. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to note that all regions and almost all countries, with the exception of Western Africa, are covered by global seed companies. Clearly, companies see reasons and find ways to overcome the obstacles to market entry.