The Access to Seeds Index assesses seed companies on their efforts to make quality seeds accessible to smallholder farmers and shines a light on leadership and good practice. By providing insights into companies’ performance, presence and portfolio, the index aims to contribute to building partnerships with the seed industry. It also establishes a benchmark for seed companies wanting to do more and informs policymakers working to create the necessary enabling environment.

The methodology is based on input from farmers, companies and policymakers, and was reviewed by experts from each region. It outlines 32 indicators for examining and assessing companies’ activities across six measurement areas, matching company performance with stakeholder expectations.

See full methodology


The index assesses the efforts of seed companies to improve access to quality seeds for smallholder farmers. To ensure a fair and meaningful analysis, the research scope defines which countries, crops and companies are considered.

See scoping report

Measurement areas

The ATSI methodology assesses company performance across six measurement areas: governance and strategy, genetic resources and intellectual property management, research and development, seed production, marketing and sales and capacity building. These measurement areas contain a total of 32 indicators. The methodology uses a weighted approach to measure and compare company performance.

  • A. Governance and strategy: This measurement area evaluates whether companies have strategies in place to help improve smallholder farmers’ access to seeds. It highlights the way in which companies include smallholder farmers in their core business strategies by assessing their governance structures and stakeholder engagement programmes.
  • B. Genetic resources and intellectual property (IP) management: This measurement area seeks to clarify how companies support the conservation of genetic resources and share the benefits resulting from their use of publicly available genetic material. Furthermore, because national seed laws and other IP regulations differ, and many emerging economies still lack seed and/or other IP laws, this measurement area also seeks to clarify and assess the positions of companies regarding IP in general.
  • C. Research and development (R&D): This measurement area focuses on companies’ R&D efforts, including through partnerships with (local) research institutes. It especially relates to activities that consider local conditions in the indexed region and the key crops for its farmers.
  • D. Seed production: This measurement area seeks to identify whether companies produce seeds locally and the extent to which smallholder farmers are involved in this process.
  • E. Marketing and sales: This measurement area assesses how companies make quality seeds of improved varieties available and affordable to smallholder farmers and promote their use.
  • F. Capacity building: This measurement area focuses on how seed companies invest in local capacity building to ensure that farmers have the right knowledge and tools to realise the full potential of quality seeds of improved varieties.

Approach to scoring and ranking

Scoring approach
Scoring takes place at the indicator level. The index has used a three-point scale with one-point increments of 0, 1, and 2; and a five-point scale of 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2. In each case, a score of 0 typically reflects no relevant disclosure and a score of 2 reflects leading performance.

Weighting approach 
The allocation of weight across the six measurement areas was based on a consideration of the following.
Stakeholder priorities: Extensive input on the methodology was received through stakeholder consultation, which contributed to revisions and updates to the measurement areas, and the relative importance assigned to each area.
Business activities that have the greatest impact: Although seed companies engage in a variety of business activities that can have an impact on smallholder farmers, some of those activities have a greater impact than others.

Scoring guidelines
This scoring guidelines document details the elements that are included under each indicator. Scores for each company are publicly available at the indicator level for all stakeholders. Individual company results are presented in company scorecards and scores against each of the 32 indicators are disclosed in a detailed scoring sheet.

Data collection process

A company survey was developed on the basis of the methodology and its indicators. This survey was pre-filled on the basis of publicly disclosed corporate information. Companies were given the opportunity to review and add additional data, during an eight-week data collection process in April-May 2021. All data used for the index is already public or could be made public. The 2021 index will include corporate data from 2018–20.

The findings of this index rely mainly on information shared by companies and information available in the public domain. Companies that have no website or did not share information rank low in the index. Several factors may have impacted the availability of information, such as limited access to the internet for small seed companies or capacity constraints within companies increased by the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, in the case of limited or no engagement by such companies, this Index may not represent the full extent of their efforts.