Pakistan partnerships in inclusive seed systems

Pakistan partnerships in inclusive seed systems

Round 2 Pakistan Agriculture Active



Partner contribution

$ 501,348

DFAT contribution

$ 500,000

Icon Total Funds

Total Value

$ 1,001,348

Start: November 2017 - End: December 2019


The Engro Corporation

The Engro Corporation is a diverse company with operations in fertiliser, dairy, energy and chemicals. It also has a fast growing seed business. In 2009 it established the Engro Foundation, a social investment arm. Business inclusiveness is at the heart of Engro’s social impact strategy as the company looks to integrate the underprivileged, youth and women into its value chains. Engro lead this initiative, including all technical and commercial activities.

MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

For 60 years, MEDA has implemented market-driven initiatives in the developing world. MEDA focuses on market systems development, inclusive financial services, and investment-led programming. MEDA has a strong history in agriculture, building and strengthening the business foundations and commercial relationships smallholder farmers need to improve their livelihoods.

About this partnership

In Pakistan, 75 per cent of seed is uncertified and sold through informal channels. Most of this uncertified seed does not meet minimum quality standards, resulting in poor yields. This partnership aims to increase participation of male and female smallholder farmers in the Sheikhupura/Gujranwala districts in Punjab in the seed value chain, and to improve their skills and expertise to improve smallholder farmers’ crop yields and income.

This initiative develops an innovative, scalable and sustainable business model in Pakistan’s seed sector that broadens and diversifies the seed procurement base for rice, wheat and vegetables, resulting in improved livelihoods for male and female smallholder farmers.

The Engro Corporation works with smallholder farmers, introducing them to seed growing techniques and helping them become part of the seed supply chain. Through existing partnerships with Engro, MEDA helps smallholder farmers while ensuring sustainable business benefits for Engro. DFAT provides expertise in women’s economic empowerment and agricultural development, and support with critical co-investment. DFAT also leverage its convening power and local networks to achieve development and social outcomes.

This partnership creates shared value by redefining productivity in the value chain. By working with smallholder farmers, Engro will be able to broaden its seed supplier base and the volume of seed available for sale. These farmers benefit primarily through increased income from producing and selling certified seed, which can be sold at a higher price than regular crops. Farmers also benefit by learning new farming practices and marketing techniques.


This initiative promotes women’s economic empowerment through alternative livelihoods – as farmers using better seeds, as seed multipliers and as registered seed suppliers. It enhances women’s voices in decision making and community leadership through introduction of Women’s Seed Multiplication groups.

While women work in smallholder farms, they are not in public leadership roles and are not seen as seed producers. The partnership aims to ensure 10 per cent of farmers participating at each level are women, from initial farmer training through to registration as seed suppliers. The partnership uses Women’s Seed Multiplication Groups and trains women master trainers to enable women to access new skills and information in culturally appropriate settings. Seed production and management are potentially lucrative for women as post-harvest handling for seed can be done from home.

Progress Update

December 2018

Exceptional progress was made in this partnership in 2018. Of note, the number of women farmers who joined the initiative exceeded planning targets. Partners were still able to meet season-specific milestones despite initial delays, and pricing also improved on the previous year in paddy seed, rice and wheat yields following certified seed use.

Key activities:

  • A total of 4,416 farmers (3,816 men and over 600 women) participated. The numbers exceeded expectations with the participation of female farmers 50 per cent higher than anticipated. MEDA was instrumental in guiding this and providing technical support.
  • Engro provided orientation and training for all farmers (male and female) in over 175 villages in the districts of Gujranwala and Sheikupura.The training included the benefits of certified seed use, optimum plant population management, direct seeding of rice, water-saving techniques, balanced fertiliser use, farm safety, seed production, women’s empowerment, and environmentally friendly crop management practices. A focus on vegetable growing was added as a way to supplement incomes in additon to growing rice and wheat.
  • Market share of paddy and wheat seed sales improved on the previous year. Engro sold 1,151 tons of paddy seed compared to 1,060 tons the previous season, despite a shrinking market in the Basmati varieties. Paddy seed pricing also improved with nine per cent more sales than the previous year. The share of direct farmers’ sales increased by 25 per cent with 400 tons sold compared to 300 in 2017.
  • Wheat seed sales also increased compared to last year. 5,000 tons of wheat seed was sold in Rabi season (October – March) 2018 against 2,430 tons sold the previous year.
  • The company procured 160 tons of pure paddy seed and 105 tons of wheat seed from participating farmers. 16 tons of quality paddy seed harvests were retained by early adopter farmers in October/November 2018 for processing to sell to village-based seed entrepreneurs in Kharif season (July to October) 2019.

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