Metahelix Life Sciences Ltd

Metahelix Life Sciences Ltd (Metahelix) was established as a biotechnology startup in 2002. In 2016, the company became a subsidiary of Rallis India Ltd, part of the multinational conglomerate Tata Group. Along with biotech traits, the company develops hybrid field crop and vegetable varieties that it commercializes under its brand Dhaanya in India. In 2017, Metahelix established operations in Indonesia under the name PT Metahelix Lifesciences Indonesia. The company also sells (GM) cotton.

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South and Southeast Asia

Summary of results:

Metahelix ranks 12th out of 24 index companies, exhibiting strengths in its breeding activities, intellectual property and seed production. The company is involved in numerous international consortia and receives feedback on its breeding activities from interdisciplinary stakeholders. The company’s scores in Governance & Strategy and Seed Production benefited from reporting, such as on its code of conduct, from its parent company Rallis India. In Intellectual Property, the company takes an enabling stance on the farmers’ privilege. The lack of reported initiatives in Capacity Building and broader conservation commitments in Genetic Resources resulted in a lower score in these measurement areas. While the company demonstrates generally strong performance, there is room for activities to increase access to seeds for smallholder farmers in these two measurement areas, at the beginning and (user) end of the seed value chain.

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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
Field crops
Rice, paddy
Green pea
Pepper (hot)
Local Crops in Portfolio
  • Mustard
Leading Practices

    Metahelix collaborates with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) on a joint initiative with HarvestPlus to improve the nutritional quality of millet by improving its micronutrient content. The project is specifically focused on biofortified iron. Metahelix conducts trials for ICRISAT under this collaboration.

Areas for Improvement

    Metahelix is encouraged to publicly disclose more of its activities and provide greater transparency regarding how the activities of its parent companies, Rallis India and Tata Group, impact its overall operations.

    The company is encouraged to develop a policy on genetic resource conservation and use, and could do more to safeguard the genetic resources of the crops it is working on.

    Although Metahelix develops and markets seeds that meet local needs and conditions, the company could do more to offer capacity building with a focus on women and next-generation farmers in the region.

Notable Findings

    The company conducts research on and develops GM traits in cotton as well as rice and maize. The latter two have not (yet) been marketed.

    The company participates in various government subsidy programs that are aimed at smallholder farmers. In India, the company offers lower prices to state governments as a means of increasing access to seeds. The company reports that 5-10% of its revenues are derived from these government contracts.

    The company has seed production activities in both countries where it is active, namely, India and Indonesia. It collaborates with local players, so-called ‘organizers’, to offer smallholder farmers contracts to produce early generation seed. The company facilitates meetings for both organizers and farmers to provide extension services.

    In collaboration with its parent company Rallis India, Metahelix provides extension services that reach up to 1 million smallholder farmers. The company engages over 15,000 farmers in seed production activities by offering tailored training including on best practices.

    The company hosts product meetings where agronomic advice is offered and farmers can discuss their experiences with Metahelix products with staff.

    The company introduced a System of Rice Intensification (SRI) program with a select number of farmers in Odisha, India, which educates and trains farmers while providing support through specific SRI machines for sowing rice, thereby increasing productivity.