Enza Zaden

Enza Zaden Beheer B.V. (Enza Zaden) is a family-owned vegetable breeding company. It was founded in 1938 and is based in the region of the Netherlands known as ‘Seed Valley’. Offering a broad portfolio of vegetable crops, both hybrid varieties and organic seed, the company has 47 subsidiaries and three joint ventures in 24 countries. It sells its seed in all four index regions. Smallholders constitute its main clientele in some markets.

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Global Seed Companies

Summary of results:

Enza Zaden ranks tenth in the 2019 Index. In comparison with 2016, much more information was made available for Governance & Strategy, Research & Development and Capacity Building. The company’s position at the lower end of the ranking is largely explained by a lack of access to seeds strategies. It performs well in Genetic Resources. This is in part due to activities related to the conservation and use of genetic resources, such as collaborations with gene banks. The relatively weak performance in Marketing & Sales is attributable to a lack of commitments and activities related to targeting smallholder farmers. The company is involved in multiple collaborative approaches to advance local seed sectors, resulting in average scores in Governance & Strategy.

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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
Pepper (hot)
Pepper (sweet)
Local Crops in Portfolio
Yardlong bean
Leading Practices

    Enza Zaden invests 75 million euros annually in research and development, with the aim of improving its portfolio of more than 30 crops by releasing 100 new varieties every year. The company has specifically invested in the establishment of breeding locations in and for the South and Southeast Asia region, where it breeds for varieties with disease and pest resistance and abiotic stress tolerance, among others.

Areas for Improvement

    Enza Zaden publicly discloses its support for the breeders’ exemption and reports that it does not favor patents protecting natural processes or products. The company is encouraged to disclose its position on intellectual property in relation to the practices of smallholder farmers such as farm-saved seed.

    While the company’s breeding activities are being intensified in index regions, the relevance to smallholder farmers is unclear. The company is encouraged to disclose how its research and development activities are geared toward the needs of smallholder farmers.

    With sales activities in all four index regions, the company indicates that although smallholder farmers are an important client group, it does not have promotion or demonstration strategies in place in index countries to promote adoption of its products by smallholder farmers. The company is encouraged to develop such strategies to ensure its diverse vegetable portfolio reaches smallholder farmers.

    The company is encouraged to disclose information on its varieties and their adaptability to the local growing conditions in the index regions where the company operates.

Notable Findings

    In addition to being an active member of national trade associations in Kenya, South Africa, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, Enza Zaden contributes to local seed sector development in index countries through its partnership with the Dutch organization Agriterra, providing technical support to farmers’ cooperatives in Nepal.

    The company participates in a public-private partnership with the Centre for Genetic Resources in the Netherlands, through which it provides financial and in-kind assistance to collect germplasm of wild crop varieties and farmers’ varieties, and ensures the availability of these varieties for research and breeding purposes. Further, the company provides Ethiopian farmers with access to its germplasm through its collaboration with the NGO Fair Planet.

    The company has breeding programs in index regions. Through a joint venture with East-West Seed Indonesia (EWINDO), it breeds various global and local crops including tomato, pumpkin, okra, amaranth, kangkong and yardlong bean.

    The company established Southeast Asian headquarters in Penang, Malaysia in 2018. This facility will be responsible for developing vegetable varieties and distributing seed in the region. In the same year, the company also established a commercial office and seed storage building in Manila, the Philippines.

    The company has a robust internal management system to ensure the quality of its seed. Extensive quality checks, which include checks by seed health labs, are carried out for all the company’s seed globally.

    The company has an extensive global distribution network operating through its subsidiaries and local dealers. The company also reports serving remote areas in index countries.

    In Tanzania, the company collaborated with the NGO Vi Agroforestry to improve the vegetable production of 800 smallholder farmers through increased yields and enhanced shelf life. The approach included helping the farmers adapt more effectively to climate change and improving their farming systems by introducing certain tree species on and around their farm land, counteracting deforestation and generating extra income from the sale of wood.