Why an Access to Seeds Index

Increasing smallholder farmer productivity is key to achieving zero hunger, the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG#2). The Access to Seeds Index aims to encourage seed companies to do more to achieve this goal.

By creating a better understanding of the role of the seed industry, the index aims to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Hunger is a daily reality for 1 billion people, and 2 billion suffer from various forms of malnutrition. The global population is expected to grow by another 2 billion in the coming decades, precisely in those regions that are currently considered food insecure.

The smartest way to tackle the pressing challenges of food insecurity is to enable farmers to produce more – and more nutritious – food. Agriculture in food insecure regions is dominated by smallholder farmers, generally defined as farmers growing food on plots of land of around two hectares, equivalent to two or three football fields.

Tackling global food insecurity
A good crop starts with quality seeds. Insufficient access to quality seeds of improved varieties is one of the many constraints smallholder farmers face. Improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers is thus an essential part of the solution to global food insecurity.

This is where the seed industry comes in. Improved varieties have enabled farmers in advanced agricultural systems to triple their yields. What is the seed industry doing to enable smallholder farmers in developing regions to achieve similar results?

The Access to Seeds Index aims to shine a light on this question. It assesses leading global seed companies – generally at the forefront of research and development – while examining the crucial role regional seed companies play in delivering industry products to the farm gate.

Encouraging private sector engagement
The index seeks primarily to identify leadership and good practices, providing an evidence base for the discussion on where and how the seed industry can do more. Published every two years, the index aims to monitor progress over time and to encourage the seed industry to step up its efforts.

Private sector engagement is at the heart of the SDGs adopted by the United Nations in 2015. By creating a better understanding of the industry’s role, the index aims to contribute to achieving these goals.

The index is published by the Access to Seeds Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, which is dedicated to assessing the seed industry’s contribution to smallholder farmer productivity. The foundation is allied with the World Benchmarking Alliance, a global initiative aimed at benchmarking the private sector’s contribution to the SDGs.

“The Access to Seeds Index is a very interesting publication and important work.”

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO (10 May 2016)

“The Access to Seeds Index can support developing mutually beneficial partnerships between farmers organizations and the seed industry.”

Ishmael Sunga, Chief Executive Officer, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (Access to Seeds Index Workshop, 28 November 2016)

“The Access to Seeds Index research shows issues of sustainability, access for small farmers, importance of regional supply.”

Louise Fresco, President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University and Research Centre. (Twitter @ LouiseOFresco, 25 February 2016)