This Access to Seeds Index evaluates the performance of the seed industry in taking the lead in reaching smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia. The index shows that the seed industry is present in all countries in South and Southeast Asia, but reaches only 20% of the smallholder farmers. It is highly research-driven, releasing new varieties for a broad variety of crops. Seeds are sold in package sizes tailored to the needs of smallholders. However, sales activities are not often accompanied by training to help farmers in adapting their practices and adopting new technologies. In addition, breeding and production activities tend to be concentrated in only a handful of countries. As a results, seed sector development does not progress to the same degree. Ultimately, the majority of smallholders in the region has yet to be reached.
Vegetable seed is a key business driver, legumes are underrepresented. For the majority of crops, the newest varieties are less then three years old. Regional companies do more to release public research varieties than global companies. Furthermore, global companies offer for 70% of the crops in their portfolio. only hybrid varieties. Regional companies extend the availability of open-pollinated varieties. The assessment of company performance is based on a total of 59 indicators grouped in seven measurement areas. Thailand-based East-West Seed tops the index, by building around a smallholder-centric business model, which is reflected in a client base made up almost entirely (98%) of smallholders. Compared to regional seed companies, globally active companies tend to have more comprehensive strategies is place, with clear targets for tackling food and nutrition security.