Thailand-based East-West Seed outperformed global giants Bayer and Syngenta in the first-ever Access to Seeds Index for South and Southeast Asia, which evaluated the efforts of 24 leading seed companies in the region to support growth in the productivity of smallholder farmers, one of the main targets of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In South and Southeast Asia about 350 million people are undernourished, a number that has barely changed in the past two years, according to a recent United Nations report.* Around 30% of the children in the region are malnourished. Smallholders provide up to 80% of the food supply, so helping the 170 million smallholder farmers of South and Southeast Asia to grow more and more nutritious food is key to achieving food and nutrition security.
The Access to Seeds Index found that leading seed companies have seed sales activities in all countries in South and Southeast Asia. However, investments in seed production or breeding tend to be concentrated in a select number of countries, most notably India and Thailand. As a result, the development of local seed industries in Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia run the risk of lagging further behind as few leading seed companies invest in these countries. Ultimately, 80% of smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia have yet to be reached.