StorySimon Groot is a 6th generation descendant of the family that laid the foundation of the Dutch vegetable seed industry. During his many travels as marketing director of the family seeds business Sluis & Groot (now Syngenta) he had noticed the poverty of smallholder farmers in South East Asia, and the need for high-quality seed so farmers could increase their productivity and income.
In 1982 Simon Groot started East-West Seed in the Philippines in cooperation with the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam and Filipino seed trader Benito Domingo. A team of young breeders from Wageningen University (WUR) and from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) started to develop hybrid vegetable varieties.
In 1986 ‘Jade Star’ was introduced, the first locally developed commercial bitter gourd in tropical Asia. Soon tomato and eggplant varieties followed, plus pumpkin, several brassicas and leafy vegetables like kangkong.
Simon Groot soon extended his activities throughout South and Southeast Asia: Thailand in 1984, Indonesia in 1990, Vietnam in 1995, India in 2003, Myanmar in 2009, Tanzania, Guatemala and Cambodia soon followed.
In 2011 Simon Groot received a “Doctor of Science in Agricultural Sciences, Honoris Causa” from Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and the university council of Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, Thailand, in recognition of his work in vegetable plant breeding and the development of plant breeding programs in Thailand and in tropical Asia.
Simon Groot has been an inspiration to other seedsmen, who followed his initiative in developing the seed markets in Asia. In 1994, he was one of the founding fathers and after that an active member of the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA), and in 2003 of a consortium of vegetable breeders to support AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center - with funds and expertise. He was honored with a lifetime membership of APSA in 2014. In 2015, he was awarded the Mansholt Business Award for Sustainable Entrepreneurship at Wageningen University.
Team : Supervisory Board
Current position : Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board & Founder, East-West Seed Group
Works for East-West Seed since : 1982
Based in : Nonthaburi, Global
Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, Thailand
Doctor of Science in Agricultural Sciences, Honoris Causa