Kenya Seed Company

State-owned Kenya Seed Company Ltd (Kenya Seed Company) researches, develops and markets field crop and vegetable seeds, alongside the sale of pesticides and fertilizers. It was incorporated in 1956, and in 1979 it acquired Simpson and White Law, a vegetable seed company that trades under the brand name Simlaw Seeds. Kenya Seed Company also established the brands Kibo in Tanzania and Mt. Elgon in Uganda.

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Eastern and Southern Africa

Summary of results:

Kenya Seed Company ranks 14th in the Eastern and Southern Africa Index, falling ten places compared to 2016. The company's moderate performance is largely attributable to a significant lack of disclosure on its policies, commitments and activities related to smallholder farmers. The company performs well in Research & Development and Marketing & Sales. In the former, subsidiary Simlaw Seeds has a formal commitment regarding breeding for local conditions and includes eight local crops from its own breeding program in its portfolio. In the latter the company stands out for its quality assurance and after-sales support, participation in insurance schemes and provision of discounts to cooperatives. The company’s lowest scores are in Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property, both of which can be improved through greater disclosure around key issues, including the conservation of resources, and corporate positions on farm-saved seed and the breeders’ exemption, among others.

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Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Crops in Portfolio
Seed type
Hybrid OPV GM
Field crops
Beans, dry
Rice, paddy
Green bean
Green pea
Pepper (hot)
Pepper (sweet)
Local Crops in Portfolio
  • Amaranth
  • Spider plant
  • Hairy nightshade
  • Jew's mallow
  • Crotalaria
  • Sukuma wiki
Leading Practices

    The company includes a significant number of local crops in its portfolio, including amaranth, crotalaria and hairy nightshade, which are suited to the specific needs of smallholder farmers and help to maintain regional agrobiodiversity.

Areas for Improvement

    Kenya Seed Company is encouraged to disclose the full scope of its access to seeds-related commitments and activities throughout the region. It is also encouraged to clarify the aims of its breeding program in relation to research on the suitability of crops for smallholder farmers in the region.

    The company’s mission statement does not explicitly target smallholder farmers, a vital customer group in both a Kenyan and regional context. The company is therefore encouraged to adopt and disclose a corporate commitment related to improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers, including transparent targets and a robust tracking mechanism.

    The company has previously stated that it complies with labor laws but does not disclose a policy to this effect. It is encouraged to formalize and disclose such a policy in order to increase stakeholder accountability.

Notable Findings

    Kenya Seed Company publishes a mandate to carry out research and promote and facilitate production of high-yielding, quality certified seed, to enhance food self-sufficiency and quality living standards for sustainable economic development in the region.

    The company’s subsidiary, Simlaw Seeds, is committed to tackling region-specific issues through its breeding program. To achieve this, the company invests significant capital in researching and developing technologies, infrastructure and new varieties. In addition to working closely with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to develop improved varieties, the company reports having research fields located in different agro-ecological regions in Kenya, namely Thika, Njabini, Kiboko, Loitoktok, Bungoma and Kitale.

    The company conducts farm visits to reach smallholders in remote areas. These visits provide opportunities to interact with farmers, handle specific complaints, offer advice or conduct performance evaluations of the varieties in the field.

    Simlaw Seeds offers seed in packages of various sizes; 10g, 25g, 50g, 100g, 250g, 500g and 1kg, demonstrating a tailored approach which considers the purchasing capabilities of smallholder farmers.

    Kenya Seed Company has a quality assurance system to ensure that seed is of good quality when purchased by smallholder farmers in index countries. The company holds ISO 9001: 2008, ISO 17025 and ISTA certifications, and participates in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Seed Schemes via the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).

    According to its 2015 Annual Report, Kenya Seed Company invested 400,000 Kenyan shillings in various educational programs and donated 200,000 seedlings to public schools, women and youth groups.