Simon N. Groot, the Dutch founder of tropical vegetable seed company East-West Seed, has been named the 2019 World Food Prize Laureate for his transformative role in empowering millions of smallholder farmers. The Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.
More than 20 million farmers in 60 countries plant East-West Seed’s 973 improved varieties of 60 vegetable crops on 28 million hectares, benefitting hundreds of millions of consumers with greater access to nutritious vegetables for healthy diets. The red arrow of East-West Seed’s logo is a household name among Southeast Asian farmers.
The announcement was made on Monday 10 June 2019 during a ceremony in the US Department of State presided over by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, made Mr. Groot’s award public. Quinn: “Like Dr. Norman Borlaug before him, Simon N. Groot has dedicated his life to improving the livelihoods of millions around the world. Mr. Groot in effect developed a stunningly impactful global network of seed producers who are transforming the lives of 20 million farmers every year. For this extraordinary accomplishment, he truly deserves to be named the 2019 World Food Prize Laureate.”
Through its efforts to make quality seeds accessible to smallholder farmers, East-West Seed has set an example for the seed industry. Founded in 1982, it was the first market-oriented vegetable seeds breeding company with smallholders as the main client base. From its birth ground in South-Asia the company has spread in the past decades through Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its leadership was rewarded with a first position in the Access to Seeds Index in 2016 and 2019.
Board and team of the Access to Seeds Foundation congratulate Simon Groot and East-West Seed with this well-deserved recognition of its leadership.