New partnership unveiled to improve sustainable soy production in Brazil

BRAZIL – Soft Commodities Forum, a group of six major global agribusiness companies convened by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), has partnered with Solidaridad to engage growers in the Brazil to expand and improve soy production through adoption of more sustainable farming practices.

The partnership, which will be backed by ADM, Bunge, Cargill, COFCO International, Glencore Agriculture and Louis Dreyfus Company as members of the SCF, aims to contribute to the protection of existing natural habitats in Brazil’s Cerrado biome.

The SCF said the partnership with Solidaridad Brazil will engage directly with farmers in the region and understand what they need to expand and improve soy production through efficient and sustainable land use.

SCF noted that the collaboration will initially focus on parts of Matopiba, a livestock and agricultural area in the Cerrado biome, one of the world’s most biodiverse savannahs, where a large portion of Brazilian soy is grown to meet rising global demand and support local economies.

In a joint statement, the soft commodities platform explained that Matopiba was chosen as the first focus region because there are concerns about the high rates of native vegetation conversion driven by agriculture in this very region, despite positive trends elsewhere in the Cerrado.

The initial phase of the project will interview 80 farmers to assess current practices and understand key trends in land use dynamics in the region with an objective of collaborating with farmers to co-develop approaches which demonstrate the compatibility of profitable soy production with low-carbon and climate-smart practices.      

“If we are to promote profitable soy production along low-carbon and climate-smart practices, we must begin by listening to farmers to better understand the region, and hear directly from them about the pressures they are facing,” says Diane Holdorf, Managing Director Food and Nature at WBCSD and SCF spokesperson.

“To help us achieve our goals, we are excited to partner with Solidaridad which has a record of working directly with producers in a variety of markets and will help us explore how we can best support farmers to ensure their land can sustain long-term production in harmony with the environment.

Holdorf said that the partnership Solidaridad is perfectly aligned with the SCF commitments to drive impact at landscape level and ensure that its members achieve full traceability to farm for direct sourcing by the end of 2020.

The platform says that traceability to farm is a critical success factor to identify possible land-use challenges and engage producers in ways to promote sustainable soy production.

Joyce Brandão, Conservation and Agriculture Program Manager at Solidaridad Brazil remarked: “We are looking forward to partnering with the SCF, and especially to helping soy farmers make their needs known to the international community.

“Soy production and environmental conservation in the Cerrado can be achieved together, but farmers, as the ones working with the land, are the key partners.

“Our experience of working with producers to help grow soy production over available agricultural lands means we know there is the potential for even more sustainable practices. They give farmers greater profit potential and ensure the maximum survival of the Cerrado biome for future generations.”      

By the end of 2020, the team said that it aims to communicate results from the initial phase and then reach out to key partners and stakeholders to co-develop action plans.

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