2020 was a remarkably difficult year for Filipino farmers. The year started with the eruption of the Taal Volcano in Batangas, followed by the unrelenting Covid-19 pandemic which created supply and demand shocks in all economic sectors. Towards the end of the year, super typhoons Rolly and Ulysses wreaked havoc across the nation and ravaged billions’ worth of infrastructures and inflicted casualties on farmers and fisherfolks.
Though 2020 was a year of challenges, it was also the year when the agriculture sector rose to the occasion to deal with the threat of food security by establishing food availability and accessibility. Indeed, farmers, fisherfolks, and individuals working under the agriculture sector are “front liners” for food security.
Among these agriculture front liners is a man who was silently and tirelessly working to tackle the business constraints of the pandemic head-on. Mr. Seraj Ahmad is guided by his vision of prosperous farmers beaming with pride in their profession and role in food security. He is the business lead of Advanta Seeds Philippines, a seed company operating in the Philippines since 2011.
Under the leadership of Mr. Seraj, Advanta Seeds continues to thrive in the Asian setting as a world leader in the seed business especially in field corn, fresh corn, hybrid rice, and vegetable seeds. With a little over 25 years of experience in the agriculture industry, Mr. Seraj was previously a Regional Manager of Bayer Crop Science in India and has worked for strategy and business development positions in Advanta Seeds. He is now serving as the Business Growth Lead of the said company in the Philippines and North East Asia.
Advanta Seeds is focused on delivering word-class and affordable seeds to farmers to support food production while facing climate change and fast population growth. In a short span of time that the company has been operating in the country, it has already achieved great feats. Back in 2011, without having any knowledge in the Philippine market, Mr. Seraj saw the potential growth for field corn in the market and so he flew to the Philippines and built his own network from scratch. In 2015, he partnered up with good distributors and launched ADV Maize Doble, a genetically modified (GM) yellow corn hybrid. The following year, Mr. Seraj introduced a hybrid rice seed variety that thrives during the dry season but likewise grows during the typhoon-afflicted months by the name of PAC 801. Two years after that, Mr. Seraj had observed the limited options Filipino farmers have when it comes to vegetable seeds and so he started importing high-quality and economical vegetable seeds from India.
Having a mindset of always looking for opportunities to improve the livelihood of farmers, Mr. Seraj, together with distributors, once again launched Advanta Seeds’ latest GM corn seed variety, ADV SUPER 999, towards the end of 2019. Just this 2021, ADV PAC 339, also a revolutionary GM corn variety was introduced in the market. Both hybrids are high-yielding and bears fall army worm (FAW) resistance. The initial phase of launching a new product in any market is difficult, even more so in the face of a global pandemic. This did not stop Mr. Seraj in campaigning for the product despite the difficulties posed by the deadly virus.
Mr. Seraj’s philosophy and principles in business have established for him a stellar reputation that has made him an example of what it means to passionately own a vision and relentlessly drive it to completion even in the face of a global crisis.