Klein Karoo Africa

Klein Karoo Seed Marketing (Klein Karoo Africa) was founded in 2003 as a vegetable seed company. It purchased the maize program from AFGRI in South Africa in 2007 and then ventured into Zambia in 2010 and Zimbabwe in 2013. The company markets vegetable, pasture, wheat, sunflower and maize seed, with both hybrid and open-pollinated varieties. In 2013, the company sold majority shares to Zaad Holdings Ltd, a South African subsidiary of Zeder Investments Ltd, the agricultural leg of the PSG Group. Dutch-based vegetable company Bakker Brothers is among the other subsidiaries of the Zaad Group. Maize is the company’s main crop in the region.

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Eastern and Southern Africa

Summary of results:

Debuting at 18th in the Eastern and Southern Africa Index, Klein Karoo Africa is at the lower end of the ranking. The company shows encouraging but limited evidence of smallholder-related activities, programs and policies across most measurement areas. Its strongest performance is in Marketing & Sales, with distribution channels in nine countries and field demonstrations in three during the 2015-17 index period. Klein Karoo Africa has breeding and production locations across the region, demonstrating expansion from its home market, South Africa. It also highlights smallholder farmers as one of three key target markets, which shows transparency in Governance & Strategy. Despite a relatively low score in Capacity Building, the company’s Klein Karoo Academy for training smallholders is notable. However, its lack of formal policies and activities related to the conservation and use of Genetic Resources is reflected in its lowest score in this area.

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Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Crops in Portfolio
Seed type Source
Hybrid OPV GM Own
from other
Field crops
Beans, dry
Green bean
Green pea
Pepper (hot)
Pepper (sweet)
Leading Practices

    The company opened the Klein Karoo Academy in 2012, an accredited training facility to aid the development of small-scale farmers in South Africa. The academy aims to support the government by closing the skill gap to commercial farmers through full training, equipment and mentorship to students, with 70% practical and 30% theoretical learning.

Areas for Improvement

    Klein Karoo Africa publicly discloses portfolio availability in South Africa, for both its field crop and vegetable varieties on offer. Outside of South Africa, however, where smallholder farmers are its main customers, this level of sales information is unclear. The company is encouraged to disclose the availability of its portfolio in other countries where it operates.

    The company does not have codes of business conduct in place that set internal standards on anti-corruption, lobbying activities, and social and labor standards. It is encouraged to develop and publicize such codes to drive internal behavior and enhance stakeholder accountability.

    The company is encouraged to formalize a corporate position toward the conservation and use of genetic resources and disclose how it tracks and traces the genetic resources it uses in its breeding program.

    The company is encouraged to disclose additional details about its breeding program, including collaborating partners, specific traits bred for smallholders and how local knowledge from such farmers, including women, is incorporated into its research.

Notable Findings

    Klein Karoo Africa has breeding and testing locations in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also has further testing locations in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique. The company develops improved varieties of dry beans, maize, onion, sorghum, soybean, sunflower and wheat.

    The company aims to educate students about the food supply chain while at the same time inspiring them to become the next generation of farmers. Members of the vegetable R&D division hosted pupils of the Deutsche Schule Kroondal at the Brits Experimental Farm in 2017, where they were given lessons on nutrition and vegetable cultivation.

    The company produces seed in Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, maintaining high standards of quality and genetic purity through expert supervision. Stock seed is produced on specially selected experimental farms.

    In all of its seed production locations, except South Africa, the company involves smallholder farmers in these activities. In Mozambique, smallholder farmers account for 20% of the seed produced.

    Klein Karoo is marketing TELA to smallholders in South Africa, a brand of genetically modified maize varieties that is developed and licensed by the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project and bred with transgenic resistance to stem borer.