KWS SAAT SE (KWS), together with its subsidiaries, is a plant breeding company with global reach. It operates primarily through its maize, sugar beet and cereals segments. The maize segment produces and sells maize for grain and silage as well as oilseed crops, legumes and sorghum. The sugar beet segment breeds sugar beet and potato. The cereals segment produces and distributes hybrid rye, wheat and barley. KWS was founded in 1856.

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Global Index

Field Crops

Summary of results:

KWS ranks at the bottom of the Global Index of Field Crop Seed Companies. It exhibits some strengths in Genetic Resources & Intellectual Property in the form of support for local gene banks in Peru and Ethiopia. Overall, however, its disclosure is poor and it could do more to link its activities to the needs of smallholder farmers in Index countries.

Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Field Crops in Portfolio
Leading Practices

    KWS supports research capacity building in Peru through knowledge sharing and training sessions with gene bank scientists on genotype analysis and the identification of duplicates.

    It also assists local gene banks in Peru with maize and quinoa and in Ethiopia with wheat and barley, by sharing its experience of conserving and using genetic resources. In addition to developing the skills of researchers, the company donates parent material for crossing and/or provides equipment and financial support for field trials.

Areas for Improvement

    KWS is encouraged to increase its disclosure across all measurement areas and better linking its activities to the needs of smallholder farmers. Given its product portfolio, the company could also consider becoming more active in breeding for smallholder farmers in Index countries.

Notable Findings

    KWS states that it financially supports the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

    The company discloses a commitment to seed quality for all the countries where it is active, stating that its seeds must fulfill statutory requirements for purity and germination capacity and must be officially approved. It also states that the guidelines of the EC, OECD or International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) must be fulfilled depending on the seeds’ country of destination, but that it pursues and enforces ‘far higher standards of quality throughout the group’.