GROOT RECEIVES MANSHOLT BUSINESS AWARD FOR SUSTAINABLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY, The Netherlands—Dutch seedsman Simon Groot recently received the prestigious Mansholt Business Award for Sustainable Entrepreneurship in recognition of his contribution to the vegetable farming sector in the tropics over the last three decades. Groot is the founder of East-West Seed, a 33year old company that has played an important role in the development and improvement of tropical vegetable varieties in Southeast Asia and beyond.
“Our world is dominated by small scale farmers. What we do is add value to their labor and land. We have worked hard to create better genetics in tropical vegetable crops, using plant breeding technologies that have been successful for centuries in the West where I came from. After we started that, we realized that better crop varieties also needed better farming systems. Therefor we built local teams of extension workers to extend productivityenhancing knowledge to farmers in the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and recently we have started in Myanmar,” said Groot.
He started the company with an economic vision to improve the income and livelihood of smallholder farmers, and to contribute to increased availability and quality of vegetables in the tropics. The combination of European seed technology and expertise, tropical knowhow and local experience and entrepreneurship led to the first market-oriented vegetable breeding company in Southeast Asia, EastWest Seed.
Moreover, the company bridged the gap in farmer extension and technology transfer, responding to the changing economic and social conditions in agriculture-based developing countries. Thus in addition to developing better varieties suited to the tropics, East-West Seed took a leadership role in tropical vegetable farming extension with a strong farmer orientation and emphasis on sustainability.
The recipients of the Mansholt Business Award are selected on the basis of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines on sustainable entrepreneurship, with focus on the value chain, corporate social responsibility, human rights, and the environment.
This award is bestowed by Wageningen University to entrepreneurs who have made a positive impact to society while creating business value. Wageningen University is recognized as the best agricultural research university in the world.
Simon Groot is only the second recipient of the award, succeeding IT and precision agriculture entrepreneur Jan Hadders, who received the award in 2012. The award comes with a 25,000 euro prize.
Simon Groot, 81, of Enkhuizen, The Netherlands, is this year’s recipient of the Mansholt Business Award for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, an award given by Wageningen University to entrepreneurs who have made a positive impact on society while creating business value. Photo shows Groot (right) receiving the award and cheque from Ir. J. K. Mak, director of Deems and president of the Wageningen University Fund.