Reimagining Sustainability is the driving force behind every product we develop, every project
we lead, and every partnership we forge. In this blog we’re going to look at some of the ways we’re achieving positive, real-world impacts across our three sustainability pillars - global food security, economic and social sustainability, and environmental sustainability.
Global Food Security
We believe food security starts with the seeds we plant. With Advanta Seeds we are combining the most advanced techniques in conventional plant breeding with biotechnology to develop high performance seeds; seeds that produce higher yields, resist diseases and pests, and are more resilient. This means more crops entering the global food chain, but grown on less land, with fewer resources (such as water and soil nutrients) consumed, and less wastage.
And just as important as the seeds, are the inputs farmers use to protect and support their crops. UPL Crop Protection’s conventional inputs and the biosolutions of Natural Plant Protection (NPP) are working together as part of our unique ProNutiva programme to unlock new practices for farmers - and new possibilities for sustainable agriculture. ProNutiva is increasing yields ; making crops more nutritious ; and increasing farmers’ profits .
We’re also protecting food once it’s harvested with our post-harvest solutions provider - Decco. It offers a wide range of solutions and packaging technologies that reduce the losses during storage and transport that account for 45% of all fruit and vegetables waste.
Working together, UPL Crop Protection, Advanta, NPP, ProNutiva, and Decco are ensuring that farmers are able to grow more to meet the demands of the world’s growing population - without compromising the environment or their own livelihoods.
Economic and Social Sustainability
Empowering new levels of economic and social inclusion and resilience among farming communities is also vital to ensuring food security – essentially ensuring that farmers can farm. One way is by empowering women, the backbone of many rural economies yet facing pervasive gender inequalities. Indeed, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 150 million people could be lifted out of hunger and poverty if women farmers had the same access to agricultural resources as men. With equality firmly rooted in our philosophy, we’re facilitating female participation and leadership in agriculture.
In Tanzania we’ve partnered with the UN FAO and UN Women, alongside regional and national organisations, to deliver training and 1kg of climate-resistant and high-yielding hybrid sunflower seeds to hundreds of female farmers. And in India, our ag-tech subsidiary nurture.farm is on a mission to empower women farmers with its ‘Women in Agriculture’ project to train, up-skill and hire women to help build resilient farming communities.
Looking wider, our Applique Bien (Apply Well) training programme promotes and teaches good agricultural practices in Africa and South America. This training provides farmers and their communities with the knowledge and skills they need to safely and effectively apply agricultural inputs and solutions. This ensures that not only do crops get the protection and nutritional support they need but both people and the environment are kept safe, healthy, and empowered economically and socially too.
We’ve previously discussed our Gigaton Carbon Goal and the Radicle Carbon & Soil Challenge, but there’s more direct action we’re taking. In 2021, we launched the Rice Race initiative in Africa to support smallholder farmers with the tools and training needed to improve yields, reduce rice’s carbon footprint, and to make the rice sector financially viable from paddy to plate. To do this we’re working with farmers on climate-smart farming, including Alternative Wet and Dry (AWD) and direct-seeding techniques. This initiative is already reducing methane emissions by 50—80%, improving soil health and quality, and conserving water.
Meanwhile our Crop Residue Management programme, #EndTheBurn, is working with Indian farmers to prevent the release of more atmospheric carbon. Every year, 5.7 million acres of rice paddies are burnt in Punjab and Haryana to clear post-harvest residue quickly and cheaply. However, the environmental costs include massive increases in airborne pollutants that damage health and the environment - unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions; the degradation of soil nutrients; and the loss of other flora and fauna. To end burning, we’ve specialised spraying machines that deploy a unique bio-enzyme that rapidly decomposes harvest residues – removing the need for burning altogether. We’re training farmers in this technique as well as offering direct financial support for those who follow the programme and adopt more sustainable crop residue management models.
There’s much more coming in our Reimagining Sustainability conversation, starting with our new podcast series on the topic. The first episode will see Paula Pinto, our Global Head of Business and Marketing Excellence, offer insight into our company-wide approach to sustainability. Stay connected to join the conversation and find out more.
We now turn the spotlight to focus on those heroes that make sustainable agriculture possible – Farmers. They’re not just the guardians of their crops, they are also guardians of the environment and the heroes we need to make a real, positive difference. As we look forward to the 2022 World Cup in partnership with FIFA, we’re going to be introducing the world to the hero farmers who sow and nurture these shoots of positive, real-world impacts to bear the fruit of a sustainable future for all of us. Keep an eye out on our social media channels for their inspiring stories - we can’t wait to share them.