Learn more about the Eastern and Southern Africa Index

The 2019 ranking explained

*Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation
**In August 2018, Bayer completed the $66 billion takeover of Monsanto. The 2019 index reflects company activities in the 2015-2017 period, prior to the takeover.
Measurement areas
  • Governance & Strategy
  • Genetic Resources
  • Intellectual Property
  • Research & Development
  • Seed Production
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Capacity Building

Kenyan company East African Seed tops the 2019 Index for Eastern and Southern Africa, climbing two places compared to 2016. Its access to seeds strategies focus on reaching smallholder farmers, in particular through its research program, portfolio and tailored marketing and adoption activities. The company adjusts its agronomic training based on individual smallholder needs and has the largest pool of dedicated extension staff throughout the region.

Seed Co ranks second, up nine places from 2016 primarily due to its index-leading geographic scope of core business activities, with the company having the most testing, production and processing locations across the region. It also demonstrates strong marketing and adoption strategies linked to the highest number of extension service locations, all of which are supported by a greater level of transparency in comparison to 2016.

Globally active East-West Seed and Corteva Agriscience are the highest-ranking companies, specialized in vegetables and field crops respectively. East-West Seed’s smallholder farmer-centric business model sees it perform strongly across all measurement areas. Corteva Agriscience’s brands Pioneer and Pannar are available throughout the region, and the company’s smallholder-focused hybrid maize adoption programs in Zambia and Ethiopia are leading in the industry.

Syngenta, which offers an integrated portfolio of vegetables and field crops, rounds out the top five. The company’s Good Growth plan and activities through its affiliated Syngenta Foundation are leading examples of access to seeds strategies.

Ugandan companies Victoria Seeds, NASECO, Equator Seeds and FICA Seeds make it in the top ten, with each demonstrating relative strengths. Victoria Seeds is notable for its mission to improve gender equality through female farmer empowerment in the countries where it operates, and Equator Seeds has leading programs to integrate and encourage young people into farming.

Ranking ninth, state-owned Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation significantly improves its performance from 2016 and has one of the strongest distribution networks of all the index companies, reaching the remotest villages across Ethiopia and working closely with farmer organizations.

In the middle of the ranking are the global vegetable seed companies Technisem and Pop Vriend Seeds, which both have strong sales networks across many index countries and broad breeding programs for regionally adapted varieties.

The bottom half of the ranking is dominated by regional companies along with global company Monsanto, the latter receiving credit for both its own and collaborative maize breeding programs. Despite a low-ranking debut, Darusalam Seed Company is notable as the only company in Somalia with business activities outside of sales, as it tests, processes and produces seed in multiple locations, and involves smallholders within these activities.

Demeter Seed maintains a steady position in the index, with broad distribution channels and seed production activities in its home market of Malawi and sales activities in three other index countries.

Kenya Seed Company and Zamseed both fall significantly in the ranking, providing limited disclosure on their access to seeds strategies and activities in comparison to the 2016 Index.

South African companies Capstone Seeds, Klein Karoo Africa and Starke Ayres, all making their debut in the ranking, and Hygrotech, included for the second time, have strong breeding programs but as of yet are not fully leveraging these for smallholder markets, which are predominantly in neighboring countries.

More about the methodology

The Access to Seeds Index evaluates leading seed companies with an integrated seed business model (including breeding, production and distribution) and activities in food crops. The selection of global companies is based on seed revenues, presence and portfolio, while the selection of regional companies is the result of landscaping studies of national seed sectors to identify leading companies in each region. The methodology development is overseen by expert review committees, composed of global experts and experts from the regions.

The 2019 Access to Seeds Index for Eastern and Southern Africa is comprised of 22 seed companies. Evaluation of company performance is based on publicly available information as well as information provided through active company engagement. Three-quarters of the selected companies disclosed additional data via a questionnaire. The index therefore offers insights not yet available in the public domain.

The index is a relative ranking, which compares companies with each other rather than against an absolute, ideal state. As such, companies set and raise the bar. The index uses a weighted scorecard approach to measure and compare company performance. A total of 59 indicators are grouped in seven measurement areas. Each measurement area has four categories of indicators: Commitment, Performance, Transparency and Leadership. A company’s overall score is the weighted sum of the scores in each measurement area.