East-West Seed helps small cultivation companies in Vietnam

The almost globally operating company East-West Seed has been known in Vietnam as Hai Mũi Tên Đỏ (HMTD), ever since it was introduced on the Vietnamese market in 1997. Right from the start focus has been on market-oriented improvement of seeds and an increased availability of this for local growers. 

East-West Seed is at the top of the Index of Access to Seeds Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation financed by the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The quote is thanks to the focus on small agricultural companies, the transfer of Dutch innovation and the participation in the public policy dialogue to make high-quality seeds available for small growers.

The Access to Seeds Index shows the importance of reaching small cultivation companies and local markets. East-West Seed is one of the few global companies that also has local seeds in its portfolio, and have cultivation programmes for these. Through training and a better availability of good seeds, East-West Seed helps small cultivation companies to increase their production.

Global food shortages
Feeding the growing global population is one of the most important challenges of our time. It is expected that nine billion people will live on this planet by 2050, six billion of which in cities. A consequence of this is that demand for food will increase by about 70 per cent. Small cultivation companies can contribute to meeting this growing demand for food.

In Vietnam, both food loss and food shortages are a problem. East-West Seed’s focus on small farms is therefore of importance, considering the large amount of food produced by small farms in Vietnam.

In the Vietnamese Mekong Delta, drought and salinisation have a large impact on the support of local growers. It’s therefore important to develop cultivation techniques and seeds that are more sustainable and resistant to the effects of climate change, such as a shorter production cycle or decreased water use.

Small farms
South and Southeast Asia combined are the region with the largest number of small farms, but it’s also the area with the largest food shortage. Combined with the fact that 80 per cent of the farms are smaller than two hectares in Southeast Asia and that two-thirds of the food production in Vietnam is done by small farmers, it’s clear that much can be gained through improving cultivation techniques and training.

Similar small companies are also helped because East-West Seed participates in the dialogue that makes the seed market more available for small growers. One example of this is that East-West Seed is one of the few global companies that offer programmes focused on training female growers in Vietnam, among other countries – while about half of the small growers are female. 

Knowledge and innovation
East-West Seed organised the first ‘Seed Business 101’ course in Southeast Asia last year. Additionally, the first group graduated from the two-year Advanced Plant Breeding course that extends the knowledge of plant growers with topics such as genomics and bio-information sciences. The company also started a foundation with Knowledge Transfer as its main goal, to increase the knowledge and income of local growers. In 2016, this foundation said to have reached 43,126 small farms.

Recently, East-West Seed celebrated their 35-year anniversary by starting an agricultural-focused university scholarship programme, to educate the children of growers in the twelve countries in which the company is active. Vietnam is part of this.

Source: Agroberichten Buitenland

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