Reaching more smallholder farmers is critical to tackle rising malnourishment.
Bayer ranks number 3 on the global Access to Seeds Index published on January 28, 2019. The Index is an independent measure that evaluates 13 global seed companies based on their efforts to improve access to quality seeds for smallholder farmers. The companies’ activities were assessed in seven measurement areas across four focus regions: Latin America, western Africa, eastern Africa, and South and Southeast Asia in the period 2015-2017. Since the Index’s launch in 2016, Bayer has consistently been recognized among the top three global companies. This year, Bayer scored on par with Syngenta and was only outperformed by Thailand-based East West Seed.
Commenting on the 2019 Index, Klaus Kunz, Head of Sustainability and Business Stewardship at the Crop Science Division of Bayer, said: “We are proud to rank among the world’s top companies in the global Access to Seeds Index. Improving access to seeds and agronomic know-how is critical in improving farmer productivity and livelihoods and, ultimately, food security. As a business, and an industry, we strive to push ourselves to go further and faster in strengthening our current efforts.” Bayer achieved consistently high scores across all seven measurement areas, taking leading positions in the fields of Capacity Building and Genetic Resources. Compared to 2016, the most significant improvement was on the overall Transparency indicator, where the company doubled its previous score.
Bayer’s commitment to addressing the needs of smallholder farmers is backed by strong practices, including the breeding and introduction of several locally adapted Arize™ rice hybrids, formalized inclusion of smallholder farmers in its seed production chain for several index crops, and a far-reaching geographic presence coupled with tailored seed packaging and distribution practices.
The former Monsanto Company was evaluated separately as the assessment was done before the acquisition by Bayer was completed. Monsanto ranked number 7 on the Global Access to Seeds Index, and was especially noted for their efforts in the Governance and Strategy category by linking specific Sustainable Development Goals to the three pillars of its 2017 sustainability report and by setting corporate-wide targets for reaching smallholder farmers. In addition, the former company’s participation in the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project led to smallholder farmers benefiting from the commercial release of 90 conventional WEMA hybrids in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
The Access to Seeds Index is published by the Access to Seeds Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Access to Seeds Foundation is an ally of the World Benchmarking Alliance. The Index aims to encourage seed companies to step up their efforts to support smallholder farmer productivity. The index is based on publicly available information and a questionnaire that companies were asked to complete.