the improvement of farmers' productivity and the development of competitive markets in agri-inputs, including seeds. One of the components of East-West Seed Company is the pride they take in their partnerships. Groot says the transferring of their knowledge is a key driver to the success they have in smaller rural communities. “At several stages of our development, such partnerships provided good combinations of expertise to enhance the pro- cess of farmer- and market-development. As a seedsman and economist, I feel great pride in having created growth potential of farmers income. Quality seed has created substantial added value for small vegetable farmers, especially in combination with knowledge transfer about optimal use of the seed.” “Historically, agricultural development worldwide has bene- fited from free movement of crop genetics, as long as phytosanitary risks are well considered and maximally prevented,” says Groot. “International seed associations, especially the main region- als, should play a major role in dealing with regulatory barriers and some of the regional seed associations are mostly active in low value developing seed-markets. Some public funding of high quality capacity building would be highly desirable.” In the high-growth area of South-East Asia, the political organization ASEAN, headquartered in Jakarta, together with APSA (Asia-Pacific Seed Association) could play an important role in streamlining the regulatory issues on across-border seed movement. Recently, East-West Seed made headlines when they sup- ported the Myanmar government in improving the productiv- ity of vegetable farmers. Registered as a foreign company in Myanmar, East-West Seed engaged in producing and distributing high quality vegetable seeds, as well as providing training to farmers through its Knowledge Transfer activities. East-West Seed is establishing the country’s first commercial seed pro- cessing facility, with the introduction of an internationally recognized quality assurance system and modern seed pro- cessing technologies which add value for the farmers and set new standards for the industry. Despite progress in recent years, poor access to knowledge and limited adop- tion of technology hamper the productivity of farmers. TAKING NOTICE In 2015, Simon Groot was recognized when the University-fund Wageningen awarded him the Mansholt Business Award for Sustainable Entrepreneurship 2015. According to the jury, “Way before there was talk of public-private partnerships, and cooperation between trade and development cooperation, Simon Groot with his company East-West Seed showed how this can be done.” One example of the many public-private partner- ships that East-West Seed is active in, is the coopera- tion with Wageningen University and Research and with breeding company Rijk Zwaan in Tanzania in a public-private partnership SEVIA (Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Sector of Africa) on the improvement of vegetable seeds and produc- tion, which is good for farmers incomes and for the growing number of city dwellers. Groot is a strong advocate of the shar- ing of knowledge. With farmers in Asia and Africa, the company provides farmers with information about the best production methods and by educating employees. Under chairmanship of Groot’s eldest son Rutger, the East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer foun- EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 33 dation builds on new markets by training smallholder farmers in vegetable cultivation. “It increases your market and the income of farmers,” Groot says. “You have to share your knowledge to come to a better world.” He was also active in the International Seed Federation and a driving force behind the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA), the largest association of national, regional and inter- national seed companies. Photo Marlies Wessels