Five seed firms in Kenya have been listed among the 22 organisations best suited to support the productivity of smallholder farmers in the Eastern and Southern Africa.
Access to Seeds Index, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has identified Kenya Seed Company, Western Seed Company and Kenya Highlands Seed among the producers that are responsive to smallholder farmers in the continent.
Other Kenyan firms are East African Seed Company and Monsanto, a global agrochemical and biotechnology company with operations in Kenya.
“By benchmarking seed companies, the index gives credit to companies that show leadership and encourages others to follow their example,” said Access to Seeds Index chief executive director Ido Verhagen.
“It (benchmarking) also provides valuable information for governments, research institutes and donors interested in building partnerships with seed companies,” he said.
In 2016 the first Access to Seeds Index for Eastern Africa showed small differences between companies, with the exception of East-West Seed whose performance significantly exceeded its peers because of their smallholder-centric business model.
In early 2019, the second Access to Seeds Index for Eastern & Southern Africa will show which seed company is taking the lead now ‘in supporting smallholders in Eastern and Southern Africa’.
Twenty two companies had been nominated and the selection was based on company business models, track record and regional presence..
“Smallholder farmers need to not only produce more food, but at the same time adapt their agricultural practices to changing weather conditions caused by climate change,” said Mr Verhagen.
Improving the productivity of smallholder farmers is one of the main targets on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals agenda (SDGs).