Agriculture - - Honored -

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...

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