New initiative benchmarks seed companies


The Access to Seeds Index, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of the Netherlands, aims to encourage seed companies to step up their efforts to support smallholder farmer productivity.


“By benchmarking seed companies, the index gives credit to companies that show leadership and encourages others to follow their example,” says Ido Verhagen, executive director of the Access to Seeds Index. “It also provides valuable information for governments, research institutes and donors interested in building partnerships with seed companies.”


Supporting smallholder farmers to grow more food is seen as key to feeding the region’s growing population. In 2016, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) warned that, particularly in Asia, efforts to achieve zero hunger by 2030 could fall short.


“Smallholder farmers need to not only produce more food, but at the same time adapt their agricultural practices to changing weather conditions caused by climate change. By improving access to quality seeds, seed companies can make a vital contribution in supporting smallholder farmers with overcoming this challenge,” says Mr. Verhagen.


By the end of 2018, the first Access to Seeds Index for South and Southeast Asia will be published. It will show which seed company can be named ‘leading in supporting smallholders in Asia’. Twenty-four seed companies have been nominated; the selection was based on company business models, track record and regional presence.


Improving the productivity of smallholder farmers is one of the main targets on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals agenda (SDGs). By measuring the seed industry’s performance, the Access to Seeds Index aims to contribute to achieving these goals.

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