He started in the Philippines and together with a team of breeders from Wageningen University and local experts, he developed the first bittergourd hybrid. The bittergourd is a popular vegetable in the Philippines, but difficult to produce. The improved variety changed this and quickly finds its way to the local farmers. In this way East-West Seed became a market leader in a market that competitors did not enter for years after, because of the limited purchasing power, unstable circumstances and a fragmented market.
Since then, the company has substantially expanded with its head office in Bangkok and branches in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Tanzania, India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia. The more than 5000 employees still work according to Simon Groot’s mission: East-West Seed strives to improve the income of smallholder farmers in the tropics by making high quality seeds and varieties available to them. This mission is also recognized by others. In 2016 the Access to Seeds Index, a ranking compiled with support of the Dutch government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, investigated the availability of seed for smallholder farmers. East-West Seed ranked number 1 out of the ten vegetable seed companies which were investigated.
On Thursday November 23 at 20:45 hrs CET, Maaike Groot, great-great-great-great grandchild of Nanne Groot and daughter of East-West Seed founder Simon Groot, will share more details on the internationalisation strategy and goals of the company in this field. The three core values of the company are central to her story:
- Serving Farmers
- Learning and Innovation
- Passionate Teams