Thailand-based East-West Seed outperformed global giants Bayer and Syngenta in the first ‘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 farmer.
In South and Southeast Asia, smallholders provide up to 80 percent 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 percent of smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia have yet to be reached.
But as per the index, East-West Seed leads the industry with a business model built around smallholders, including breeding for their specific needs, selling seeds in small packages and providing training.
Right now, the Thai company’s client base is made up almost entirely of smallholders (98 percent), indicating that successful business models that work for both small-scale farmers and a company itself are possible.
The top 10 of the index further includes three seed companies from India and six global seed companies from outside the region.