Philippine-founded seed company marks its 40th year honoring farmers and launching its first museum 

With the persisting hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines, private and public sectors are working together to aim for a food-secure Philippines. 

East-West Seed (EWS) Philippines is a privately-owned seed company that has long been a partner of Filipino farmers in “growing a healthier tomorrow.” 

By providing high-quality inputs and training services, they aim to increase the expertise and income of Filipino farmers and foster the development of the vegetable farming industry in the country for better nutrition and food security among domestic households.

East-West Seed Philippines celebrated its 40th anniversary last October 7-8, 2022 with a theme that’s close to Filipinos’ hearts: fiesta.

On the first day, EWS recognized 40 “farmer-heroes” from all over the country in an awards ceremony for their contributions to the farming sector and their respective communities. 

“At East-West Seed, we believe that the farmers are our heroes. Because of their hard work we have something to eat every day. We want to give our farmers the honor and recognition that they truly deserve,” Jay Lopez, East-West Seed Philippines’ General Manager said. 

Some of the East-West Seed’s farmer-heroes who participated in the field tour. (East-West Seed Philippines)

Eden Arquero, a woman farmer-hero awardee from Nueva Vizcaya who is among the 23 million farmers that EWS has partnered with in the past four decades, shared, “Dahil po sa kita namin sa pagtatanim ng gulay, nakabili po kami ng lupa, iba’t-ibang farming gaya ng rotovator, water pump, at mini tiller. Dati sa pension lang kami umaasa pero ngayon may dagdag kita na po kami. Umangat po ang buhay namin at nakapag-iipon na rin po kami.” (Because of our income from growing vegetables, we were able to buy land, various farming machinery, such as a rotovator, water pump, and mini tiller. Before, we were only dependent on the pension, but now we have extra income. Our life improved and we were able to save.)

Eden Arquero (3rd from left) received her award as one of East-West Seed's 40 Farmer-Heroes. From L-R: EWS CEO Douwe Zijp, EWS Philippines Marketing Head Glenda Arceno, Farmer-Hero Eden Arquero, Arsenio Arquero, EWS Philippines General Manager Jay Lopez, and EWS Philippines Sales Head Alkeen Ingal (East-West Seed Philippines)

On the second day of the festival, EWS PH officially opened its first-ever museum at the Hortonova Research Center, Lipa City, Batangas, in the exact building where the world-renowned seed company sowed its first seeds. 

EWS Supervisory Board Chairman Ard Groot and EWS Founder Simon Groot unveiling the museum's plate. (East-West Seed Philippines)

The museum tells the long, fruitful history of the company from 1982 onwards. Old seeds, souvenirs from EWS events, its early equipment, and publications such as past issues of Agriculture Magazine can also be found inside the East-West Seed Museum. Printed articles of the former Agriculture section editor of the Manila Bulletin, Zac Sarian, were also displayed. 

An Agriculture Magazine April 2001 issue exhibited at East-West Seed Museum featuring EWS Philippines Public Affairs Lead Mary Ann Sayoc. (Vina Medenilla)

In the face of climate change, EWS Jay Lopez said, “The seeds are more modernized, they are coated, high-technology, and they can withstand pests. The first 30 days are the critical part of any plant, and we want to make sure that in the first 30 days, the plant survives. This is the R&D facility that demonstrates our dedication to innovate better seeds for Filipinos and the whole world.”

In the field, more than 40 East-West Seed vegetables and ornamentals were showcased. Some of the vegetables that EWS takes pride in are Morado purple corn, Pragati bitter gourd, and Ilocana short ampalaya. 

The field features 40 varieties of different East-West Seed vegetables. (East-West Seed Philippines)

The mentioned crops, as well as other vegetable varieties of EWS, were developed locally, making them suitable for the country's growing conditions, meeting the needs of local farmers, and pleasing Filipino consumers' palates. 

“Over the 40 years, I think we have developed as the leading vegetable seeds company, not only in the Philippines, but actually all of the tropical world. I believe that we played a role in helping smallholder farmers here in the Philippines to improve their lives…” said Ard Groot, East-West Seed Supervisory Board Chairman. 

East-West Seed Founder and 2019 World Food Prize Laureate Simon Groot giving a talk during the opening of the East-West Seed Museum. (East-West Seed Philippines)

Present during the event was the East-West Seed Founder Simon Groot, who was a good friend of late Sarian. In an exclusive interview, Groot recalled how they met and how he later became Sarian’s friend after the latter “saw the light” and “switched his preferences” from emphasizing Taiwanese crops to highlighting Philippine agriculture. 

Photos courtesy of East-West Seed Philippines

Read more about farming and gardening at