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 vegetable 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.
East-West Seed provides tangible managerial incentives. 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.
East-West Seed demonstrates leadership, with active engagement both at the regional and global level. Among the other vegetable seed companies, Syngenta and Bayer are most active in international initiatives.
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.
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. An exception among vegetable seed companies is East-West Seed, which supports gene banks in Indonesia and Thailand.
Research & Development
This measurement area seeks to capture how companies’ R&D efforts contribute to developing varieties suitable for smallholder farmers.
East-West Seed leads the ranking in R&D, thanks to strong performance across the measurement area. The company directly links R&D efforts to the needs of these farmers. Other companies at the upper end of the ranking, including Rijk Zwaan and Bejo, also have R&D programs dedicated to the needs of smallholder farmers.
Rijk Zwaan partners with East-West Seed in Afrisem, a breeding company focusing on smallholder farmers in Africa. Generally, however, performance in this measurement area is low, indicating room for improvement.
Marketing & Sales
This measurement area assesses the way in which companies make quality seeds of improved varieties available and affordable to smallholder farmers.
Global vegetable seed companies concentrate on marketing proprietary hybrid varieties. Only a few East-West Seed offers open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) alongside hybrids in its portfolio to address different capacity levels among smallholder farmers.
East- West Seed also shows leadership by adapting 95% of its packaging to the needs of smallholder farmers. Adaptations include small package sizes and information in local languages as well as pictograms for illiterate farmers.
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.
East-West Seed stands out as the only company whose capacity-building programs cover almost 75% of the Index countries where it is active. It is actively engaged in providing advisory services and contributing to organizations or cooperatives that seek to improve agricultural practices and improve access to output markets.
Few companies address the specific capacity-building needs of women farmers: Rijk Zwaan in Guatemala, Syngenta in Bangladesh and East-West Seed in Ethiopia, Myanmar and Vietnam.
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.
East-West Seed outperforms its peers in a number of areas, including involving smallholder farmers in the value chain and addressing the seed production training and education needs of smallholder farmers in Index countries.
2016 Index Overall Ranking
East-West Seed clearly outperforms its peers in the Global Index of Vegetable Seed Companies. Although it is the smallest in terms of seed revenue, the company demonstrates that size is not a determining factor in the Index. Rather, its mission-driven smallholder-centric business model translates into high scores across all measurement areas, with the exception of Governance & Strategy. Syngenta and Bayer CropScience rank second and third, respectively. Bayer CropScience is a steady top three performer but does not lead in specific areas. Syngenta scores highly in Governance & Strategy, due to the commitments articulated in its Good Growth Plan, and Capacity Building, thanks to the activities of the Syngenta Foundation.