Analyses of Seed companies in South Asia

Monika Mondal
Monika Mondal

The Seed replacement rates has proportionally risen north with the seed industry, which witnessed a CAGR of 7% during the the last decade. The global seeds market has been reported to have reached a value of more than US$ 62.1 Billion in 2017, as per MARC Group’s latest report, titled, “Seed Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2018-2023”. 

Amsterdam based Access to Seed foundation, published one of a kind report which throws light on companies taking lead in reaching smallholder farmers in south & south East Asia. Access to Seed Index is part of the world benchmarking alliance (WBA), launched last September during the UN general Assembly in New York. One of the major challenges outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is helping farmers to grow more nutritious food which is the key to achieve food and nutrition security, ASI is backing this idea in the report. 

A company’s overall score is the weighted sum of the scores in each measurement area. 59 indicators grouped in 7 main components, wherein the seed firms were judged upon are: 1) Governance & Strategy, 2) Genetic Resources 3) Intellectual Property 4) Research & Development 5) Seed Production 6) Marketing & Sales 7) Capacity Building 

Thailand’s East West Seed scored maximum on the 5 pointer to come out as the leading seed firm concurring 4.17 points, followed by Bayer and Syngenta. The other companies which are featured in the list are: 


Countries in the limelight

The study focused 13 countries including India , Bangladesh , Indonesia , Vietnam , Thailand , Pakistan , Sri Lanka, Nepal,  PhilippinesMyanmar , Cambodia , Laos and Afghanistan.  Seed companies are present throughout the region but reaching only 20% of the smallholder farmers. Based on estimates of farmers reached by the 24 companies in the index, together they reach no more than 20% of all active smallholder farmers. The study shows discrete and fragmented presence of the industry in the countries. Where in India, 21 companies sell seeds, 17 have invested in breeding and production activities in the country, no company reports having breeding activities in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Neither was evidence found of production or processing activities in Afghanistan or Cambodia. However, local seed companies (not included in this index) do report having breeding activities in Afghanistan and Cambodia. 

India emerged as leader:

India, fifth largest seed market across the globe has clearly come out as the leading seed hub in the South and South East region.  In the report analysed by ASI, There are 8 Indian companies amongst the 24 listed. The 4 in the top 10 also belongs to India. 24 leading seed companies in the region shows that 21 companies sell seeds in India and 17 have invested in breeding and production activities in the country. Whereas 9 companies invest in breeding activities in Thailand and 7 in Indonesia, the two other major regional seed hubs.  In another research reported by Mordor Intelligence, the Indian Seed Industry was valued at USD 2,078.3 million in 2017 and is expected to register a CAGR of 6.4% during the forecast period (2018-2023). Highest number of technical staff is also reported in India. 
The Indian companies on the chart are:

Advanta under UPL, HyVegNamdhariNuziveeduMetahelix , Kalash Seeds, Mayco, National Seed Corporation and Bioseed. 



Regional companies focus more on Field crops 

Overall, the industry offers a broad portfolio of vegetable seed. For field crops, most companies report being active in rice and maize. Even though half of the companies report having small grains like millet and sorghum in their portfolio, only one company reports that this is one of its top three crops. Regional companies are more active producing field crops. Rice, Maize and Millets are the three top contestants which 5 global companies have their portfolio in. Legumes are the most ignored crops, both by global and regional companies. 


For the majority of crops, the newest varieties are less than three years old; regional companies do more to release public research varieties. Global companies report that for 66% of the crops in their portfolio in the region the youngest variety is less than three years old, which shows the rigorous investments by the company in research area. 


Research & Hybrids dominates 

Regional companies extend the availability of open-pollinated varieties. Of the global companies, only East-West Seed, Limagrain and Advanta sell OPVs. Of the regional companies, National Seeds Corporation and Acsen HyVeg stand out for making OPVs available for almost all or all crops in their portfolio respectively. Most seed companies sell package sizes tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers ranging from 5 gm to 10 kg. 80% of the companies produce Hybrid seeds and only 55% of them work with Open pollinated ones. 

Topping the ranking is East-West Seed, which scores highly for its extensive breeding program focused on local crops and its Advanced Plant Breeding program that trains next-generation plant breeders. Namdhari Seeds scores well for engaging smallholder farmers in participatory plant breeding. 2 in top 3 in this list are Indian companies. 

Other than private sector, 2 state owned companies namely National Seed Corporation from India and Punjab Seed Corporation from Pakistan also took position in the study.  

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