Research & Development

This measurement area focuses on companies’ research and development (R&D) efforts, especially activities that consider local conditions in index regions. These activities include adapting global crops for local use and breeding programs aimed at improvement of, for example, yield, pest and disease resistance and climate resilience of local crops.

Testing varieties that are already available, either in a company’s own collection or in research institutes, is a fast route to bringing new varieties to market. By conducting variety trials and on-farm demonstrations, for example, companies can test varieties in their existing portfolio for suitability in index regions.

Breeding for smallholder farmers
Companies can contribute to the availability of a diverse set of varieties tailored to the needs and preferences of smallholder farmers in index regions through their plant-breeding activities. Such activities can focus on global and local crops. This requires breeding programs informed by local knowledge and feedback.

Specific traits for smallholder farmers
Dedicated programs to develop specific traits with tolerance to abiotic stresses such as heat, drought, flooding and salinization, and the biotic stresses of pests and diseases can significantly improve crop yield and performance. Similarly, the development of improved varieties with specific traits that increase the nutritional value of crops can contribute greatly to food and nutrition security.

Local collaboration
Through collaboration with local research institutes and farmer organizations, companies can leverage their technical strengths with local expertise. In some cases, local research institutes may already have developed germplasm that is available for use in breeding programs. Collaborative research is also a way to help advance local seed sectors.

D.I Commitment
D.I.1 Improved varieties for smallholder farmers

The company has a policy statement on developing new varieties and/or testing existing varieties appropriate to the local conditions and preferences of smallholder farmers in index countries.

D.II Performance
D.II.1 Testing

The company has activities to test crop varieties suitable for smallholder farmers in index countries, which includes varieties from the company’s own portfolio or from public research institutes.

D.II.2 Developing improved varieties of global crops

The company has a breeding program that aims to develop varieties of global crops appropriate for smallholder farmers in index countries.

D.II.3 Developing improved varieties of local crops

The company’s breeding program includes the development of varieties of local crops appropriate for smallholder farmers in index countries.

D.II.4 Breeding program for specific traits

The company’s breeding program includes the development of specific traits useful to smallholder farmers in index countries, such as pest and disease management, increased crop robustness, climate change resilience and/or nutritional value.

D.II.5 Local knowledge and feedback

The company has mechanisms in place to ensure that the knowledge, preferences and feedback of local consumers, traders and smallholder farmers are incorporated into its breeding programs in index countries.

D.II.6 Collaborative research

The company is involved in collaborative research with local public or private partners such as research institutes, non-governmental organizations and/or farmers or farmer organizations in index countries.

D.II.7 Breeding activities in index regions

The company has its own breeding activities and/or facilities in index regions.

D.III Transparency
D.III.1 Transparency in R&D

The company reports publicly on its policies, practices and results in this area.

D.IV Leadership
D.IV.1 Leadership in R&D

The company has established innovative models or leading practices in this area.