Established in 1913, Sakata Seed Corporation (Sakata), which is headquartered in Japan, is one of the largest vegetable breeding companies in the world. Together with its subsidiaries, it sells horticultural products and materials in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Near and Middle East and throughout the Americas. It breeds, produces, procures and wholesales vegetable, flower and grass seed as well as flower bulbs, vegetable and flower seedlings, and agricultural and horticultural products and services, including for the hobby gardening market.

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Global Seed Companies

Summary of results:

Despite some improvements compared to the 2016 Index, Sakata ranks at the bottom of the 2019 index. The company performs well in Seed Production, in part thanks to the labor standards it applies in India. It improved slightly on transparency but still suffers from both a lack of formal corporate commitments to access to seeds for smallholder farmers and transparency regarding its activities across most measurement areas. The company does not disclose its positions on intellectual property and does not offer any substantial evidence of capacity building activities targeting smallholder farmers.

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

    No leading practices were identified.

Areas for Improvement

    Sakata is encouraged to build on its modest improvement in transparency, disclosing more about its operations in index countries.

    Given its global reach and activities in countries with a high number of smallholder farmers, Sakata is encouraged to develop policies and activities for improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers with related governance and accountability structures.

Notable Findings

    Sakata’s breeding program has various objectives relevant for smallholder agriculture, such as tolerance to pests and diseases, drought adaptation, cultural preferences and shelf life.

    In India, the company monitors compliance with social standards to prevent child labor and forced labor, and to ensure minimum working conditions regarding health and safety in its operations. It also ensures standards for living conditions and minimum wages are met in its seed production activities.

    The company’s seed labs are certified by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), assuring seed quality.

    The company provides small packages, such as 5 gr, which are suitable for smallholder farmers.

    To support illiterate farmers, the company includes pictorial planting guides on its seed packages in several countries.