First ever Access to Seeds Index for South and Southeast Asia evaluated
24 leading seed companies in the region on support for Sustainable Development
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Media OutReach - 12 November 2018 - Thailand-based East-West Seed outperformed global
giants Bayer and Syngenta in the first-ever 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 farmers, one of the
main targets of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In South and Southeast Asia about 350 million people are undernourished, a number that has barely changed in the past two years, according to a recent United Nations report.. Around 30% of the children in the region are
malnourished. Smallholders provide up to 80% 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% of smallholder farmers in South and
Southeast Asia have yet to be reached.
tackling climate change challenges and reducing the environmental impact of
agriculture, it all starts with the seed farmers use," says Ido Verhagen,
executive director of the Access to Seeds Index. "The seed industry plays a key
role in improving the accessibility and affordability of quality seeds for
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. Its client base is made up almost
entirely of smallholders (98%), 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.
The five highest
scoring companies are all globally active. Besides East-West Seed (#1), Advanta
(#4) has its roots in the region. The others, Bayer (#2), Syngenta
(#3) and Corteva Agriscience (#5), have all had
breeding, production and distribution activities in the region for a long time.
Bayer's clientele in the region comprises about 95% smallholder farmers.
"The picture that
emerges from our data is that of a highly competitive, research-driven seed
industry. Companies from the region itself play an important role, especially
on research and development, with breeding programs specifically focusing on
the needs of smallholders," Verhagen adds. "Global companies like Bayer and Syngenta placed high in our ranking, indicating that they have
become well-rooted in the region."
The Access to Seeds Index research notes that the companies
strictly adhere to national laws and/or international treaties concerning
genetic resources but could do more to support the conservation and use of agrobiodiversity
in the region.
On intellectual property, half of the companies explicitly state that they
do not limit the use of their varieties for further breeding or the use of
farm-saved seeds. The research adds that few companies have tailored pricing
strategies for their patent-protected material in order to ensure affordability
for smallholder farmers.
The Access to Seeds Index for South and
Southeast Asia is one of the first SDG benchmarks published by the World
Benchmarking Alliance. The initiative was launched last September during the UN
General Assembly in New York. By measuring and comparing corporate performance
on the SDGs it aims to encourage the private sector to step up their efforts
towards achieving the SDGs. The Access to Seeds Index was developed with
support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Government of The Netherlands.
Note for editors
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