Syngenta AG (Syngenta) is a Swiss-based agrochemical company founded in 2000, following the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals. In October 2017, ChemChina secured a $45 billion takeover after its participation in Syngenta exceeded 98% of Syngenta’s share capital. Syngenta offers a wide range of field crops, vegetable and flower seeds and agrochemicals. Products are sold through independent distributors and dealers as well as directly to farmers. The company’s non-profit organization, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, focuses specifically on precommercial smallholder farmers and has ongoing projects in Mali and Senegal.

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Western and Central Africa

Summary of results:

Syngenta ranks fourth in the 2019 Index for Western and Central Africa, the result of leading performance in several measurement areas and below-average scores in others. The company leads the index in Governance & Strategy and Capacity Building. In the former, its global Good Growth Plan exhibits strong smallholder and sustainability commitments, while in Western and Central Africa specifically, the company and its affiliated Syngenta Foundation are at the forefront of efforts to improve the enabling environment for the industry. In the latter, the Syngenta Foundation has a leading capacity building presence in Mali and Senegal, combining classical agronomic training with innovative information and communications technologies (ICTs) to improve smallholder productivity, as well as promoting farming as a viable livelihood to the next generation. At the other end of the scale, the company does not produce seed in the region and hence receives only minimal scores for its global commitment to Seed Production. A lack of disclosure on the specifics of its breeding programs results in a mediocre score in Research & Development, with a similar lack of information on portfolio availability in index countries resulting in a below-average score in Marketing & Sales. The company outperforms its regional peers in Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property, primarily as a result of conservation and benefit-sharing activities and robust and transparent corporate policies.

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Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Crops in Portfolio
Field crops
Beans, dry
Pigeon pea
Rice, paddy
Green bean
Green pea
Pepper (hot)
Pepper (sweet)
Leading Practices

    The Syngenta Foundation’s Seeds2B program focuses explicitly on improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers and has completed and ongoing initiatives across index countries. The program also works on policy harmonization and liberalization with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), national seed committees and national agricultural research systems.

    The Syngenta Foundation, in partnership with AfricaRice, has developed the RiceAdvice app, which generates tailor-made recommendations that assist rice farmers in lowland areas to apply mineral fertilizer more efficiently. Between 2015-17, the foundation trained and engaged 230 actors as RiceAdvice service providers, who in turn guided 19,000 smallholders in Nigeria, Mali and Senegal through the rice-growing season.

    The Syngenta Foundation, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation and AfricaRice launched a project to foster youth entrepreneurship, strengthen market linkages and enhance livelihoods for next-generation rice farmers in Mali and Senegal. The program plans to target 15,000 rural youth through ICT channels.

Areas for Improvement

    Syngenta, primarily through the Syngenta Foundation, demonstrates significant activities, programs and policies for smallholder farmers in Mali and Senegal. The company is encouraged to scale up and replicate these activities, where possible, in the other five index countries in which it reports having a presence.

    Syngenta does not report having any seed production activities in the region, in contrast to Eastern and Southern Africa. The company is encouraged to consider undertaking these activities in Western and Central Africa as local seed production activities, and engaging smallholder farmers in such activities, have the potential to increase local capacity and develop local seed sectors.

    The Syngenta Foundation publishes its variety catalog for Western Africa, demonstrating transparent reporting on the seed it makes available to smallholders. Syngenta itself is encouraged to follow this example and increase transparency around its portfolio availability in index countries.

Notable Findings

    The Syngenta Foundation has two programs to help create an enabling environment for seed activities in Africa. Its Connect program identifies and assesses the performance of new varieties and de-risks entry for distribution, while its Build program facilitates the licensing of public-bred varieties for private companies and develops the market for smallholder farmers.

    Syngenta partnered with the New Markets Lab to undertake case studies to assess the pace of national efforts to implement regional seed policy harmonization. Ghana is one of three countries in which the studies were implemented.

    The company informs its breeding program with the knowledge, preferences and feedback of local consumers, using its network of over 1,400 reference farms across 41 countries, including Côte

    The Syngenta Foundation funded a project to train Malian government scientists to breed sorghum varieties better adapted to local conditions. The program has resulted in four new varieties, which will be offered to smallholder farmers by local Malian seed companies in the coming years, with the Syngenta Foundation assisting in registering these new varieties and establishing public-private partnerships between the local companies and government.

    In 2016, Syngenta partnered with the Scaling Seeds and Technology Partnership, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to launch APRON®Star in Senegal, a two-year initiative to improve smallholder access to agricultural inputs, including seed and seed treatment technology, with the aim of strengthening food security and farmer livelihoods.

    The Syngenta Foundation introduced the Center for Mechanized Services (CEMA) model in Mali and Senegal. This integrates new technology and training on rice cultivation, reaching 5,300 smallholder farmers through the former and over 5,000 across three projects through the latter.