Access to Seeds Index 2019: Global seed companies
This publication of the Access to Seeds Index 2019 presents an overall ranking of 13 leading global seed companies based on seven measurement areas: governance & strategy, genetic resources, intellectual property, research & development, seed production, marketing & sales and capacity building. A large part of the answer to the question of how to raise agricultural productivity, while also remaining within the planetary boundaries and tackling climate change, lies in plant breeding – but only when the results reach smallholder farmers. This is where the seed industry comes in. The results show that the global seed industry is adapting their seeds to combat the impact of climate change. However, a lack of access to quality seeds in many emerging economies persists, as global companies reach just 10% of the world’s smallholder farmers. There is a growing presence of companies in Western and Central Africa. All 13 global seed companies invest in local seed business activities such as breeding, production and processing in index regions. However, these investments are concentrated in only 10 countries, so other countries benefit less. Furthermore, global seed companies focus on a select number of field crops and, with the exception of soybean, largely ignore legumes. Hybrid seed dominates. In total, eight of the 13 global seed companies now report aligning their operations with the SDGs. Breeding for climate-resilient field crop and vegetable varieties is the key contribution global seed companies make to climate action. Moreover, the nutritional value of field crops is increasingly a breeding target but not yet a high priority. In recent years, the seed industry has taken steps to acknowledge that access to genetic resources should be linked to sharing the benefits of such access. Thailand-based East-West Seed tops the 2019 Index. With a client base made up almost entirely of smallholders (98%), it demonstrates that business models shaped around small farmers can be profitable.