Seed companies can greatly help to advance local seed sectors in index countries by enabling smallholder farmers to produce seeds under fair conditions. Working with farmers and local seed growers generates incomes locally and contributes to capacity building. Through the establishment of local production facilities, smallholder farmers can access advanced technologies, expertise and quality seeds on a continuous basis. Seed production locations are distributed across the index regions, whereas the involvement of smallholder farmers in seed production activities varies significantly. India is the primary location for company activity in seed production, including by non-Indian companies. Other countries where extensive seed production takes place are Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa and Tanzania. However, in the majority of these countries, only 50% of seed companies involve smallholder farmers in seed production.
An exception is Corteva Agriscience, which has seed production locations in 11 index countries and involves smallholder farmers in all of them. East-West Seed and Advanta involve smallholder farmers in seven out of nine seed production countries. Conversely, Seed Co and Monsanto, which produce seed in 21 and 13 countries respectively, involve smallholder farmers to only a limited extent. There is a need for companies to address this issue. In addition to involving more smallholder farmers in seed production activities, companies must ensure fair conditions. The varying extent to which companies formalize these relationships through employment contracts and risk/benefit-sharing is notable. Many companies offer contracts to smallholders through intermediaries or ‘organizers’, not directly, with the risk of losing oversight. Similarly, the nature of the contracts between such organizers and smallholder farmers remains unclear. Companies are encouraged to develop and improve contracts that address the specific needs of smallholder farmers, and to ensure that risks and benefits are shared equitably and formalized in contracts, including those offered through organizers and intermediaries.