US – American agribusiness and food company Bunge has adopted satellite technology to monitor soybean crops in the Brazilian Cerrado, one of the high-risk areas of deforestation in Brazil.

Dubbed Bunge Sustainable Partnership, the initiative is part of Bunge’s global non-deforestation policy aimed at achieving deforestation-free value chains worldwide by 2025.

The program will help partners implement supply chain verification systems, including satellite and farm-scale images.

Bunge says it uses data from Brazil’s Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) at scale to obtain accurate information about the dimensions of the properties and their borders in Brazil.

This enables the observation of land-use changes more accurately on each of the monitored properties, otherwise impossible with limited GPS coordinates.

This new offering would allow grain dealers to use the same model to monitor their suppliers or use Bunge’s geospatial monitoring structure at no cost.

Following the launch, Bunge will be the first global company to foster mass action in the Cerrado region to track indirect purchases of soybeans.

Being an area vulnerable to deforestation for farming purposes, offering an effective monitoring system offers extensive benefits to the entire supply chain.

It will foster sustainable crop production while at the same time discourage deforestation in one of the world’s largest carbon sinks.

On its part, Bunge has a goal of reaching 100 percent monitoring of its indirect soybeans purchases by 2025, aligned with its global commitment to deforestation-free supply chains.

The company says it already has 100 percent traceability to the farm for its direct purchases and the Brazilian Cerrado region alone.

The company monitors more than 8,000 farms, reaching 11.6 million hectares (28.6 million acres), which accounts for 96 percent of the soybeans purchased directly in this region.

When it comes to indirect purchases, the company however has a long way to go as it currently traces and monitors only 30 percent of crops purchased through this route.

With the engagement of grain dealers through the Bunge Sustainable Partnership, the company expects to reach 100 percent of traceability and monitor its indirect purchases in the next four years.

“We recognize the important role we can play in our industry. This unprecedented initiative is a way for Bunge to share with its supply chain the best practices we use to build value chains that are traceable and verifiable,” says Rob Coviello, Bunge’s chief sustainability officer and government affairs.

The company says it will share its experience, methodologies, and tools with partner dealers interested in implementing or improving their suppliers’ social and environmental evaluation (farmers).

At the initatial stage, the program will run  on a pilot basis and the US agribusiness company has already partnered soybean distributor Agrícola Alvorada to make the program a success.

Data from the properties the dealer buys soybeans from have already been included in Bunge’s satellite monitoring cycle this year.

Under its global non-deforestation commitment, Bunge also takes several actions to encourage sustainable agriculture, from special financing lines to mapping areas already open and suitable for soybean expansion.

The most recent example is the AgroApp Bunge, an app that works as a hub of information and tools to support sustainable production, address sustainability-related issues, and offer farmers overall support.

Through this communication channel, farmers have easy access via mobile devices to CAR data on their properties, contributing to the property’s overall environmental and biodiversity management.

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