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Pop Vriend Vegetable Seeds BV (Pop Vriend Seeds) is a family-owned company founded in 1956. The company offers a wide range of open-pollinated and hybrid vegetable varieties that are adapted for tropical and sub-tropical conditions. Pop Vriend Seeds operates in over 100 countries worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. The company’s main crops in Eastern and Southern Africa are tomato, onion and watermelon.DownloadCompany
Pop Vriend Seeds ranks 12th in the Eastern and Southern Africa Index, moving up two places from the 2016 Index. The company performs best in Intellectual Property, where it demonstrates practices favorable to the breeders’ exemption and farmers’ privilege, in addition to offering helpful pricing strategies, such as discounts and trial samples, to smallholder farmers. In Research & Development, the company’s breeding program for developing improved varieties of local crops and breeding for specific traits relevant for smallholders are notable. It also has a system in place to incorporate local knowledge and feedback from throughout the region. The company’s low score in Capacity Building is attributable to limited extension services and a lack of corporate focus on key target groups next-generation and women smallholder farmers, while in Seed Production the company can formalize its commitment to, and engagement of, smallholders within its production activities in the region in order to improve its score.
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The company has one of the most diverse vegetable breeding programs amongst all index companies, developing improved varieties of, among others, green bean, green pea, spinach, carrot, tomato from its breeding station in Tanzania, for markets throughout Africa. The company also breeds a number of locally important crops, such as sukuma wiki and African eggplant, and incorporates several traits relevant to smallholders including heat tolerance and rust resistance in green bean, and resistance to bacterial wilt in tomato.
Pop Vriend Seeds produces seed in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania, but it does not report involving smallholder farmers in these activities or whether it has relevant labor and social standards in place. The company is encouraged to clarify how its seed production activities are organized in these countries.
While the company ensures seed quality through tests, labeling and after-sales support, its approach to reducing the prevalence of expired or counterfeit seed can be further developed.
The company is encouraged to develop and disclose a company policy for engaging next-generation and women farmers within its Capacity Building programs, which would improve corporate accountability.
Despite being headquartered in The Netherlands, Pop Vriend Seeds has a broad regional presence in Eastern and Southern Africa, assisted by its daughter company Pop Vriend Tanganyika Ltd in Tanzania.
While the company does not provide monetary or non-monetary contributions within the framework of access and benefitsharing, it does fund seed collecting missions for the Centre for Genetic Resources (CGN) at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. CGN manages the genetic resources collection that is made available in accordance with the Standard Material Transfer Agreement of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
The company does not use contracts or other provisions intended to prevent the practice of farm-saved seed by smallholder farmers in the region.
The company offers discounts on seed to enable smallholder farmers to trial new varieties, and it makes free samples of its F1 hybrids available for these farmers to try.
The company is currently exploring opportunities for new breeding programs in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Pop Vriend Seeds tailors its packages for smallholder farmers through a variety of languages (including English, French and Portuguese), and it includes a QR code that directs farmers to variety descriptions and planting guides on its website. The company also uses a track and trace system, giving each package a unique batch number that provides information on the origin of the seed and date of sale.
The company holds field days in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, in which smallholders receive sample seed packages and promotional items.
Pop Vriend Seeds has distribution channels in over 50% of the countries where it is active. It services remote areas in collaboration with local seed companies and through a variety of means, including courier services, vans and local buses.
The company works with local experts to provide extension services to farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.
The company has long-term sourcing relationships with several European fresh produce and canning companies through which smallholder farmers across the region are linked to these output markets.