Embeddedness of Syngenta’s potato and related crop protection business in Kenya: connecting farmers to markets

Luca Costa

Abstract

This case study investigates Syngenta’s embeddedness in the potato and related crop protection business in Kenya and the sustainability effects resulting from the activities of the company.

The study recognizes the company’s transition phase, from the pilot to the commercialisation phase. It therefore examines the market conditions for potatoes in Kenya and expectations of high return-on-investment.

The effects of Syngenta’s very broad range of programs, which are not always directly related to its core business activities, are also examined. Interviews reveal whether or not these programmes create a positive entrepreneurial environment, increased trust and loyalty to Syngenta.

Compliance with the legal framework, and with private standards is an important element for a company to be embedded. The other important tool for embeddedness that the study presents is the kind of network that Syngenta uses to access and integrate local knowledge in the selection and propagation of seed potatoes and the presence and quality of extension services.

The study reveals the embedded ties that create value through mechanisms such as trust, knowledge transfer, and jointly seeking solutions to solve pertinent problems; bringing international standards to local businesses and integrating them into markets. By assessing the quality and extent of «local embeddedness» the study contributes to the designing of a tool-kit that should measure the degree of embeddedness and the positive sustainability effects of locally embedded Swiss-based multinational companies in developing countries.

Keywords: Kenya, Syngenta, potato, standards, dependence, seeds

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