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Home / Events / Food for All Talks 03 – “What Seed Companies Can Do – for smallholder vegetable farming”
Food for All Talks 03 – “What Seed Companies Can Do – for smallholder vegetable farming”
Thursday April 13, 2017 Image: Food for All
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


April 13, 2017
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Online webinar

The World Bank Group’s Agriculture Global Practice is organizing a series of Food for All Talks under the WBG-Netherlands Partnership “Food for All”. The third edition will focus on “What Seed Companies Can Do – for smallholder vegetable farming”. What are the opportunities and what the bottlenecks for inclusive investments, enticing farmers in higher earning and more nutritious horticultural production from better seeds? The event takes place on Thursday April 13, 2017 (08:00 – 09:00 AM EST in Washington DC || 14:00 – 15:00 pm CET in Netherlands) and can also be attended globally through WebEx (see below for details). 

In this Food for All Talk, Ethel Sennhauser, Director, Agriculture Global Practice of the World Bank Group, will interview Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc, General Manager of East-West Seeds (Philippines) and Ido Verhagen, Executive Director of Access to Seeds Index (Amsterdam) about their findings and experiences.

Seed companies can play a key role in promoting smallholder farmers to grow more nutritious crops such as vegetables. Aside from being the most sustainable and affordable source of micronutrients, vegetables provide vast income opportunities for smallholder farmers especially in Asia and Africa where population growth and urbanization are on the rise. Despite this, vegetables hardly receive the level of attention they deserve, compared with the emphasis on grains and field crops in the food security agenda of many countries.

Unlocking the development potential of vegetable farming is not without challenges: lack of access to quality inputs, knowledge, technology and finance are among the tightest bottlenecks. The Access to Seeds Index has evaluated how seed companies are currently addressing these challenges and where they can step up their efforts. East-West Seed has been working for 35 years to support smallholder vegetable farmers in the tropics by providing high-quality seeds combined with knowledge and training support, with clear and measurable impact on the income and livelihood of farmers.

What are the economic benefits of vegetables as source of income for smallholder farmers? Are inclusive business models possible that work both for smallholders as well as for seed companies? Are seed companies willing and able to make a more diverse portfolio available for smallholder farmers? What are companies currently doing to promote adoption of high quality vegetable seed? Is the current enabling environment helpful or is more regulation needed?

How to join

Join Using WebEx: Meeting password: qsaHN62p; Meeting number:  733 576 225.

Join Using Phone: Toll: 1-650-479-3207; Access code: 733 576 225.

By Video Conference: , External IP:; followed by internal dial-in number 55730015.

Background information

Mary Ann Sayoc, is the General Manager of East-West Seed Philippines, a Dutch company engaged in research, development, production and distribution of vegetable seeds. East-West Seed is market leader for tropical vegetable seeds in Asia and developing markets in Africa and Latin-America. Dr. Sayoc has 17 years of experience in the vegetable seed industry. Prior to her stint in the private sector, Mary Ann had a long career in government, where she held key positions in the Department of Agriculture as Regional Director and Executive Director of the Agricultural Training Institute. She is currently the President of the Philippine Seed Industry Association. She has been recently elected to the Board of the International Seed Federation and the Executive Board of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an international organization working to safeguard crop diversity.

Ido Verhagen is the executive director of the Access to Seeds Index, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of The Netherlands which measures and compares the efforts of seed companies to improve access to quality seeds for smallholder farmers. Prior to starting up the Access to Seeds Index, he has been active as a boardroom consultant assisting companies like KLM, Heineken, Philips and TNT on their sustainability policies, practices and partnerships.

Food for All Talks

The Food for All Talks is a series initiated by the Food for All Partnership of the World Bank Group and the Netherlands. They deliver new insights on strategic issues and operational questions around agriculture and food value chains for the WBG. For more information, visit the Food for All webpage.



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