SOUTH AFRICA – McCain Foods Limited, world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products and a global leader in appetizers and snacks, plans to open three Farms of the Future in different growing regions around the world by 2025.
Establishment of the farms is part of its global commitment to implement regenerative agriculture across 100 per cent of its potato acreage by 2030 as part of its drive to cut carbon emissions and tackle the impacts of climate change.
To this end it has unveiled plans for a second farm in South Africa, following its announcement last year of setting up its first farm in Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada.
McCain has identified two South African locations totalling 465 ha irrigation and 90 ha dryland on which it will grow 125 ha potatoes for use across the country, per year.
The farm will focus on enhancing productivity, while prioritising soil health, water efficiency, the reduction of agro-chemical impacts and the introduction and preservation of biodiversity by using cutting-edge technology.
McCain CEO Max Koeune has highlighted that the Farms of the Future project is vital in trying to make the global food system more sustainable.
He warned that the global food system is ‘under threat’ and says overhauling agriculture is central to cutting carbon emissions and ensuring supply chains are resilient and sustainable.
“This is a critical moment. The strain that global supply chains are under right now is shining a stark light on how exposed we are, with a food system that requires a radical transformation to address the challenges of our century.
“If we don’t change the way we farm, feeding the world in 30 years will require an 87 per cent increase in carbon emissions. The implications of that are bleak – and we cannot allow it to happen,” Max said.
At Farm of the Future Africa, the potential to grow multiple crops per year, innovate with irrigation technology in a water-scarce region as well as the challenges arising from the presence of soil-borne pests and diseases make it the ideal location for transferring learning to other parts of the world, including China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia.
All of the potatoes grown on Farm of the Future Africa will be made into French fries and other frozen potato products, servicing consumers across Africa.
Farm of the Future Canada in Florenceville, New Brunswick has already seen strong yields after just one year in operation, and fertilizer application at the site is already down by more than 16 per cent compared to typical McCain growers in the area.
The reduction is mainly in nitrogen and phosphorous, a cut that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 2 per cent compared to grower historical average.
Charlie Angelakos, Vice President, Global External Affairs and Sustainability at McCain Foods, said, “The potential of the Farms of the Future project is enormous. It allows us to test and learn in different climates and geographies and to discover how best to leverage rapidly developing technology and agricultural practices – all in close collaboration with farmers to ensure it is economically viable and scalable for them.”
PepsiCo and Nestle are some of the other multinational food manufacturing companies utilizing the regenerative agriculture concept in Africa to protect and restore the environment, improve the livelihoods of farmers and enhance the well-being of farming communities.