The 2019 Access to Seeds Index for Global Seed Companies is made up of 13 leading global companies in field crop and vegetable seeds as well as regional leaders with a global presence. The insights below are based on publicly available information and information disclosed by the companies on engagement.
The 2016 Index saw the majority of global companies disclosing commitments related to aspects of food and nutrition security. However, only three companies (Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer – since merged with Dow AgroSciences to form Corteva Agriscience – and Bayer) formalized these commitments as part of an overall corporate strategy. Fast forward to 2019, and the seed industry’s leading global companies demonstrate clear progress in the integration of sustainability strategies at the corporate level. Eight of the 13 companies report aligning their operations with the SDGs, and three lead the way in terms of linking their commitments to specific policies, company activities and transparent, measurable targets.
The six commitments of Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan each align with one or more SDG, with a combined contribution toward SDGs 2 (Zero Hunger) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). With respect to index countries, the ‘Rescue more farmland’ commitment outlines the company’s work with rice smallholders in Indonesia to implement conservation practices for addressing SDGs 13 (Climate Action) and 15 (Life on Land). Additionally, its contribution to SDG 1 (No Poverty) as part of the ‘Empower smallholders’ commitment includes collaborating with TechnoServe to improve productivity and market access for tomato and potato smallholders in Kenya.
Monsanto’s Growing Better Together strategy is based on three key focus areas: Better Planet, Better Lives and Better Partner. Within Better Lives, the stated aim of the company’s participation in the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project is to contribute to SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). Corteva Agriscience’s approach is centered around the three key themes of Innovation, Food Security and Footprint, with the company’s internal goals linked to specific SDGs. This includes its collaborative project to address maize lethal necrosis (MLN) virus in sub-Saharan Africa, which addresses SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger) and 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing). All three companies publish progress toward their internal 2020 sustainability targets in annual, free and publicly available sustainability reports.
Limagrain and KWS also tie company activities to specific SDGs, as does Advanta through its parent company UPL. East-West Seed and Bayer have a narrower focus, noting that their operations are predominantly tied to SDG 2 (Zero Hunger). These companies generally have less specific corporate targets, particularly with regard to deadlines that help to enhance company accountability toward and credibility with stakeholders. Other companies do not have SDG strategies or do not disclose details of their strategies.
Of the companies with commitments to the SDGs, all highlight SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) in their strategies. The next five SDGs most often cited are: SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).