Global seed companies are adapting their products to combat the impacts of climate change and address nutritional needs; however, a new study from the Amsterdam-based Access to Seeds Foundation, shows limited access to quality seed in many emerging economies persists. According to the study, the global seed industry reaches around 10 percent of the world’s smallholder farmers. The Access to Seeds Index 2019 — Global Seed Companies is setting a new challenge for the global seed industry: how can we reach more smallholder farmers?
The Access to Seeds Index evaluates the activities of 13 global seed companies to shine a light on where the industry can do more to raise smallholder farmer productivity, improve nutrition and mitigate the effects of climate change through the development and dissemination of quality seed.
The research shows that sales by the 13 global seed companies only reached around 47 million of the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers in 2017, and most investment went to a small number of countries, mostly in South and Southeast Asia. In these regions, global companies invest heavily in local seed business activities:12 of them in breeding and 12 in production. In contrast, such activities are rare in Western and Central Africa, with only two companies investing in local breeding and one in production.
“Although the industry is making advances in developing more nutritious and climate-resilient varieties, it’s clear that more needs to be done,” says Ido Verhagen, executive director of the Access to Seeds Index. “Material changes won’t be possible without reaching a greater percentage of smallholder farmers, who account for the lion’s share – 80 percent – of global food production.”