Two homegrown African seed companies top the 2019 Access to Seeds Index for Eastern and Southern Africa, for playing a key role in raising smallholder farmer productivity, according to new research by the Amsterdam-based Access to Seeds Foundation. Kenyan company East African Seed and Seed Co., placed first and second respectively, have both grown their activities in the region since the first index was published in 2016.
East African Seed stands out for its broad portfolio including local crops and large network of extension staff across multiple countries. Seed Co, originally from Zimbabwe but now headquartered in South Africa, is the African seed company with the most extensive breeding, production and sales network, and the widest geographic reach in agronomic training.
“Two African seed companies at the top of the ranking is no surprise, given their deeper understanding of the region and the challenges smallholder farmers face. But Thailand’s East-West Seed in third place is eye-catching too, because it suggests they are transferring their knowhow and experience with smallholders in Asia to Africa,” said Sanne Helderman, Senior Research Lead at the Access to Seeds Index. “It shows also that these relatively small seed companies are ahead of larger multinational seed companies in integrating smallholder farmers into their business models.”