East-West Seed Tops Global Seed Index

Bridging the gap between seed companies and smallholder farmers
25 February 2016 | Bangkok, Thailand 
 
East-West Seed ranks #1 ​in​ ​the Access to Seeds Index in 2 out of 3 indices published for the first time today. The Index measures and compares the efforts of the world’s leading seed companies to enhance the productivity of smallholder farmers. 

The Index was published by the Access to Seeds Index Foundation, an independent organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dutch Government. It aims to improve farmers’ access to a wider array of modern, more productive seed varieties by bridging the gap between seed companies and the smallholder farmer.
Improving smallholder farmers' access to quality seeds is a crucial first step to achieve the goal of feeding the world sustainably.


Bill Gatesspeaking at a recent forum on innovation, emphasized the importance of agriculture in achieving global prosperity: “Over 70% of the poor people in the world are farmers. They have small plots of land, very little information, seeds that are very old, not much credit, and they’re just getting by. The changes in the weather in the future will make things even tougher for them. Every country that has gone to prosperity has raised their agricultural productivity pretty dramatically.” 
  
It is estimated that by 2050 the world needs 70% more food to feed a population of nine billion, in an environment where less water and land is available. The only way to achieve this is by increasing farm productivity, more yield from less land and resources, and a more environmentally sustainable way of producing food. 
  
Mr. Ido Verhagen, Executive Director of the Access to Seeds Foundation said: “We recognize that smallholder farmers represent an untapped opportunity to meet the challenge of global food security. Providing them access to quality seeds unlocks their potential to produce more food for the growing global population.” 
  
East-West Seed leads the ‘Global Index for Vegetable Seed Companies’ and ‘Regional Index for Eastern Africa’.  The Index praises East-West Seed’s commitment to smallholder farmers, which is evident in all aspects of its business, including packaging, distribution, customer service, research and development, knowledge transfer and innovation. According to the report, East-West Seed prioritizes the needs of smallholder farmers in the development of both local and global crops. 
  
East-West Seed CEO Mr. Bert van der Feltz said: “We are grateful to the Access to Seeds Foundation for putting smallholder farmers in the center. The Index is an important barometer of the seed industry’s impact on smallholder farmers. They have been the driver of our business since East-West Seed was founded in 1982. It is important to assist them because they are the key to improving worldwide access to nutritious food, and they contribute to economic growth. When we ​​do this, ​we achieve several goals at the same time: t​he farmer's income increases, consumers have access to high quality vegetables, and we build an attractive and profitable seed business." 
 

East-West Seed breeds tropical vegetable crops that are adapted to local markets and growing conditions.

Improving farmers’ income and livelihoods 
East-West Seed’s company mission is to improve the income and livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Its unique approach to business includes:
 
● Local breeding which caters to local demand and conditions, resulting in >800 varieties of 37 vegetable crops
 
● Local extension workers who train farmers in improved growing techniques in the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Tanzania and in several West African countries

● Availability of small seed packages (about $1 per pouch) which are suited to small farmers with less than 2 hectares of land, representing 85% of the world’s farm holdings

Critical measures 
The Index ranks individual companies on their efforts to enhance access to seeds. East-West Seed outperforms all other companies in 5 measurement areas: Public Policy & Stakeholder Engagement, Research & Development, Marketing & Sales, Capacity Building and Local Seed Sector Advancement.

 


Background information
  
About the Access to Seeds Index 
Source: www.accesstoseeds.org 
Click for the Executive Summary of the Report 

Challenge 

Feeding the growing global population is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. Smallholder farmers in developing countries represent an untapped opportunity to meet that challenge. By improving the availability of quality seeds, coupled with the right agronomic practices, the seed industry can play a major role in stimulating agricultural and economic growth. 

  
The Index 

The Access to Seeds Index seeks to identify the extent to which seed companies are playing their part while encouraging them to enhance their role and responsibility. By matching the expectations of stakeholders in and around the seed industry with company performance, it helps to clarify the role that the seed industry can play and brings transparency to the contribution of individual companies. Through its findings, published in a report every two years, it contributes to an informed dialogue on how companies can step up their efforts.  

The Vegetable Seed Companies Global Index measures the performance of the top 10 vegetable seed companies. The Access to Seeds Index simultaneously publishes a list of Global Field Crop Seed Companies. Their business model differs from that of vegetable seed companies. The third list published today is a Regional Index for Eastern Africa, that will serve as a template to roll out to other regions.   
  
Inspired by the Access to Medicine Index 
The Access to Medicine Index has successfully encouraged the pharma industry to contribute more to the world’s health needs. It showed that a multi-stakeholder Index can be the catalyst in unleashing the potential of an industry to be a part of the solution to global issues.