Governance & Strategy
This measurement area seeks to capture companies’ overall commitment to global food and nutrition security and, more specifically, to smallholder farmer development.
More than half of the global field crop seed companies have formulated a commitment to smallholder farmers, although tangible targets are often lacking. Syngenta stands out with its Good Growth Plan which is considered innovative in the field of corporate commitments to access to seeds for its explicit focus on smallholder farmers, inclusion of the company’s commitments and measurable targets up to 2020 and provision for regular progress reports.
Bayer has a formal commitment to provide food security solutions. Also Monsanto has targets to reach a certain number of smallholder farmers by 2020. The remaining companies disclose only informal commitments which are not part of a formal policy and thus have limited accountability.
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.
Opportunities exist to increase engagement with stakeholders outside the seed sector. It is clear that smallholder development cannot be achieved by the seed industry alone. Most companies are actively involved in the sector’s trade associations, but engagement with partners and initiatives outside the seed industry appears limited. Among field crop seed companies, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer and Bayer are most active in international initiatives. Among vegetable seed companies, only East-West Seed demonstrates leadership, with active engagement both at the regional and 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.
Syngenta is the only company with a formal commitment not to pursue or enforce patents and applications in seeds or biotechnology in least-developed countries for private use by subsistence farmers.
Companies provide access to their genetic resources. Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer all collaborate with local partners to provide access to specific genetic material or biotechnology traits. This ranges from research on insect-resistant Bt cowpea and water-efficient maize.
Support for public gene banks, important for the conservation and use of region-specific crop diversity, is common among global seed companies. But support for local gene banks in Index countries is largely overlooked. An exception is KWS, which supports public gene banks in Peru and Ethiopia.
Research & Development
This measurement area seeks to capture how companies’ R&D efforts contribute to developing varieties suitable for smallholder farmers.
DuPont Pioneer outperforms its field crop seed peers, largely due to its commitment to develop traits suitable for smallholder farmers and its variety testing activities. The company tests varieties of five of the seven Index crops in its portfolio in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Bayer performs variety trials in 11 Index countries around the world for two of the Index crops in its portfolio.
The majority of global companies developing traits and varieties suitable for smallholder farmers do not provide evidence of systems to collect feedback from these farmers to inform their breeding processes. This raises questions about alignment of breeding efforts with the actual needs and preferences of smallholder farmers.
Marketing & Sales
This measurement area assesses the way in which companies make quality seeds of improved varieties available and affordable to smallholder farmers.
Bayer outperforms its peers in marketing and sales and shows leadership in its approach to seed quality management. Syngenta has established an innovative program offering smallholder farmers insurance against drought and excess rain. By doing so, the company is able to reduce the risks faced by smallholder farmers who buy improved seeds and operate in unstable climatic zones.
The majority of companies have relevant programs encouraging the adoption of improved varieties. Field days, demonstration plots and tailored packaging are common ways to promote adoption.
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.
Syngenta, Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences have formal commitments to help smallholder famers increase their productivity and income, and all publicly disclose an extensive list of relevant capacity-building initiatives covering at least a third of the Index countries where they are active.
Mostly, capacity building takes place in collaborative projects aimed at a specific region or country, rather than being a structural element of a smallholder-focused business model. An example of a project involving several companies is the collaboration of Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta and Seed Co with the Tanzanian government in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT).
Local Seed Sector Advancement
This measurement area seeks to capture the extent to which seed companies are involved in advancing a professional seed sector on a local level.
Although there are some strong examples of support for local research capacity and engagement with local seed enterprises, only Bayer has a formal commitment addressing its role in the development of formal seed sectors in Index countries. DuPont Pioneer is the only company to recognize the relevance of the informal seed sector in Index countries, but this recognition is limited and not part of a formal policy.
2016 Index Overall Ranking
DuPont Pioneer tops the Global Index of Field Crop Seed Companies, its position the result of strong performance in measurement areas including Genetic Resources & Intellectual Property, Research & Development and Marketing & Sales. DuPont Pioneer is closely followed by Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Syngenta’s strengths lie in Genetic Resources & Intellectual Property, Marketing & Sales and Governance & Strategy; Bayer CropScience’s strengths in Research & Development, Marketing & Sales and Local Seed Sector Advancement.