Thirty-two seed companies are assessed for the Eastern and Southern Africa index on six measurement areas considered key for increasing access to quality seeds of improved varieties for smallholder farmers in the region. The ranking includes 13 global and 19 regional companies selling vegetable and field crops important for the food and income security of smallholder farmers in the region.
The top ten is a mix of six global and four regional companies. Bayer, based in Germany, leads the 2021 Eastern and Southern Africa index with 69.9 out of 100. However, only the top seven companies score above 50%, showing that high-ranking companies still have improvements in performance and disclosure of their activities that support smallholder farmer development. In addition, 11 companies follow with a score above 20%, leaving almost half of the index companies to score below 20%. The long tail of low-performing companies raises concerns about the industry’s efforts to reach smallholder farmers and a lack of transparency in case companies have good practices that the industry can learn from.
Bayer has been assessed for the first time on the regional index and its’ top rank is based on a well-developed strategy for ensuring access to seeds for smallholder farmers under the chairman of the management boards and solid knowledge-sharing initiatives. Agriscope Africa (East African Seed), in the second position, had led the 2019 index, two places higher than in 2016. The company performs well across all measurement areas leading in capacity building with programmes for women smallholder farmers and a mobile application designed to provide agronomic information to its customers. East-West Seed which topped the first 2016 regional index, ranks in the third position in 2021, just like 2019. The company has a smallholder-centric business model and has shown continuous improvement in governance and strategy since 2016, with supervisory board oversight over its access to seeds strategy and stakeholder engagement practices.
Remarkably, global companies are catching up with regional companies with strong distribution channels to reach smallholder farmers at the farm gate. Also, global companies still outpace their regional peers in comprehensive access to seeds strategies, as observed in 2019. In addition, global companies support the conservation of genetic resources and share the benefits resulting from their use of publicly available genetic materials fundamental for developing new varieties for sustainable food production. A few leading regional companies show strength in capacity-building activities, but many regional companies fail to disclose information, ranking at the lower end.
Total score out of 100
Governance and strategy out of 10
Genetic resources and intellectual property management out of 15