Monsanto is an agricultural company that operates in two segments: seeds and genomics, and agricultural productivity, which includes agrochemicals. The seeds and genomics segment covers both field crop and vegetable seeds under multiple brands. with DEKALB maize and Seminis vegetables among the most prominent. It also covers the development of biotechnology traits and licensing germplasm and traits to other seed companies. The company acquired the National Seed Company of Malawi in 1998 and has multiple business locations through Eastern and Southern Africa, including South Africa and Kenya. In 2018 Bayer completed the $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto. Activities to fully integrate Monsanto into Bayer are ongoing.

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Eastern and Southern Africa

Summary of results:

Monsanto ranks 15th in the Eastern and Southern Africa Index, a significant drop in terms of both score and position compared to the 2016 Index. The company’s sustainability report Growing Better Together is an industry leader, which accounts for its strong performance in Governance & Strategy as well as a significant proportion of its Transparency score. Monsanto exhibits robust labor standards in its Seed Production activities and demonstrates transparent positions on Intellectual Property, though none are favorable toward smallholders. A lack of disclosure heavily affects the company’s scores in Marketing & Sales, where distribution networks, quality assurance and the extent of its promotion and demonstration strategies are unclear. It also scores poorly in Capacity Building, where outside of extension work in Kenya the company reveals little or no information. Monsanto’s lowest score, in Genetic Resources, is largely a lack of public disclosure related to region-specific conservation and benefit-sharing activities.

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Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Crops in Portfolio
Field crops
Green bean
Green pea
Pepper (hot)
Pepper (sweet)
Leading Practices

    Monsanto’s participation in the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project resulted in the company, together with its partners, granting royalty-free licensed access to adapted maize hybrids to 23 African seed companies. Smallholder farmers have since benefited from the commercial release of 90 conventional WEMA hybrids in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Areas for Improvement

    Although Monsanto is transparent about its positions on patents, plant variety protection law and farm-saved seed, none are favorable to the needs of smallholder farmers. It is encouraged to consider these positions with respect to the needs of smallholder farmers within its broad customer base.

    The company does not disclose information related to its breeding programs for vegetables and whether these traits are beneficial for smallholder farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa. It is encouraged to disclose the scope of its breeding programs aimed at smallholder farmers.

    The company discloses little or no information about the portfolio availability of its prominent brands, particularly DEKALB for maize and Seminis for vegetables. It is encouraged to improve disclosure of its sales activities in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Notable Findings

    Following Bayer’s takeover, Monsanto will no longer be the company name. The acquired products will retain their brand names and become part of the Bayer portfolio.

    Monsanto reports that it signed the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s WASH Pledge. Similarly, it invested $3.5 million in clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects at its facilities and in surrounding communities between 2014 and 2017, including in Malawi and South Africa.

    Monsanto’s 2017 sustainability report comprises three focus areas: Better Planet, Better Lives and Better Partner. Each addresses specific Sustainable Development Goals, incorporates company activities and sets 2020 corporate targets. These include training 4 million smallholder farmers and improving the lives of 5 million resource-poor families worldwide, including core reporting on activities related to the region.

    The company reports that as of 2017, 1.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa had benefited from improved food security through the WEMA project through which approximately 180 hectares were planted with the Drought TEGO maize brand hybrids. In South Africa, it introduced biotech maize hybrids in 2017.

    Monsanto collaborates with the Danforth Plant Center in the Virus-Resistant Cassava for Africa (VIRCA) project. The company provides funding and technical advice on the use of genetic modification to improve resistance to regionally significant pests and diseases. It has an application pending for regulatory approval following successful field trials in Uganda and Kenya.

    The Monsanto Fund’s partnership with Human Development International enabled 5,000 smallholder farmers in Eastern Kenya to improve yields while conserving resources.

    The company partners with the Buhle Farmer’s Academy in South Africa, which in 2017 provided holistic training to over 800 students on theoretical, practical and agricultural business management skills.