Governance & Strategy
This measurement area seeks to capture companies’ overall commitment to global food and nutrition security and, more specifically, to smallholder farmer development.
Syngenta leads the measurement area ranking, followed closely by DuPont Pioneer. Vegetable seed company East-West Seed and field crop seed company NASECO are tied in third place.
With smallholder farmers representing the most important customer base in the region, it is hardly surprising that most regional companies assign responsibility for access to seeds for smallholder farmers at the executive level. Eleven out of 17 companies have implemented a management system with senior management oversight of access to seeds-related programs or activities and they track their progress.
Public Policy & Stakeholder Engagement
This measurement area seeks to capture how companies engage with policy- makers and other stakeholders to influence policies and markets in ways that benefit smallholder farmers.
Although most regional companies participate in national or regional industry associations, participation in global multi-stakeholder initiatives tends to be the domain of global companies. East African Seed, Kenya Seed Company and FICA Seeds are among the few companies giving the regional industry a voice at the global level.
Genetic Resources & Intellectual Property
This measurement area seeks to capture how companies handle genetic resources and IP in ways that support the opportunities for smallholder farmer development.
Whereas global companies have formal commitments in place, most actual activities for the conservation and use of genetic diversity are found among regional companies. East African Seed, Kenya Seed Company and Seed Co, among others, partner with multiple local seed banks and global research institutes. NASECO and Kenya Seed Company also donate their germplasm to public research partners.
Research & Development
This measurement area seeks to capture how companies’ R&D efforts contribute to developing varieties suitable for smallholder farmers.
In contrast to their global peers, regional companies include local crops such as amaranth and cowpea in their breeding programs. Local preferences are also taken into account. East African Seed, for instance, focuses its black nightshade breeding program on reducing bitterness. Multiple companies use farmer feedback mechanisms, such as Seed Co’s on-farm visits and variety demonstrations, to inform their R&D decisions.
Marketing & Sales
This measurement area assesses the way in which companies make quality seeds of improved varieties available and affordable to smallholder farmers.
Regional Index companies, as well as smallholder-focused global companies such as East-West Seed and Technisem, tend to be more active than their global peers in the development and deployment of marketing strategies tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers. Specifically, these companies are more likely than the large multinationals to make use of open-pollinated varieties (OPVs), different seed grades, localized seed packages and appropriate demonstration services.
Technisem excels in providing adapted packaging at affordable prices to smallholder farmers in the region, while Victoria Seeds uses mobile seed shops (tuk-tuks) to reach farmers in remote areas. East-West Seed demonstrates leadership with its systems to gather, track and handle smallholder farmers’ complaints.
This measurement area seeks to capture how companies contribute to ensuring that smallholder farmers have the capacity to realize the full potential of quality seeds of improved varieties.
Companies tend to focus their capacity-building efforts on only a few countries. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda account for the majority of capacity-building initiatives in which seed companies are involved. In contrast, the company with the greatest capacity-building reach, Kenya Highland Seed, has activities in as many as eight countries.
Often, companies partner with other organizations. For instance, Victoria Seeds has established partnerships with local development organizations that seek to deliver extension services in Uganda. It is unclear whether company decisions or the availability of external partners limits the reach of capacity-building activities.
This measurement area seeks to identify whether seed companies produce seeds locally and involve smallholder famers in this process.
Fourteen companies produce seeds in at least one Index country. Most seed production is concentrated in Tanzania and Uganda, followed by Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. With more than two thirds of the companies involving smallholder farmers in seed production, this is common practice.
NASECO outperforms its peers, reporting that 90% of its production is carried out by smallholder farmers or farmer cooperatives. Behind it are East-West Seed (80%) and East African Seed (70%). Many companies report adherence to local labor laws, although only half disclose their social standards in seed production.
Index Overall Ranking 2016
The Regional Index for Eastern Africa shows small differences between companies, with a gradual tailing-off of scores. This is with the exception of East-West Seed, whose performance significantly exceeds its peers. East-West Seed’s position is underpinned by its smallholder-centric business model, which translates into consistently high scores in a number of measurement areas, including Marketing & Sales, Research & Development and Capacity Building.
Behind East-West Seed, the top of the ranking is dominated by companies based in Eastern Africa, namely Victoria Seeds, East African Seed, Kenya Seed Company and NASECO. Their comparatively strong overall performance is primarily the result of strengths in Marketing & Sales and Research & Development, most notably on Performance indicators rather than Commitment or Transparency. Generally speaking, the highest ranked companies have robust programs and activities related to access to seeds.