Media  /  February 27, 2016

New index ranks Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta on efforts to help smallholders

Link to The Guardian

The word’s leading seed companies traditionally have a poor record of reaching farmers in food insecure regions.

he world’s leading seed companies must do more to increase smallholder farmers’ access to seeds. This is the conclusion of the recently launched Access to Seeds Index, which ranks leading seed companies on their efforts to improve the productivity of smallholder farmers.

While the US-based multinational DuPont Pioneer ranks highest in a list of global seed companies for field crops, the much smaller East-West Seed leads two separate lists, one for vegetable crops and another ranking regional companies in east Africa.

Access to better seeds could triple agricultural yields, but Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta, who together control more than half (pdf) of seed sales worldwide, traditionally have a poor record of reaching smallholder farmers. A recent study showed that smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa buy the majority of their seeds at local informal markets, and only 2.4% from certified seed companies.

While the global seed industry is active in Latin America, eastern Africa, south Asia and south-east Asia, it remains inactive in almost half of countries in western Africa.

The index, which is funded by the Dutch government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is the first of its type, and aims to inform the debate on the role of seed corporations in food security. One billion people still go to bed hungry, and the bulk of the world’s population growth is expected to take place in the world’s most food-insecure regions.