The benefits of sustainable

FIELD JOURNAL Monday September 26, 2011

Protect the environment, workers and involve the community, is a must. And is profitable. Patricia Vildósola Errázuriz Sustainability is not just a one necesidad.Desde moda.Es term business perspective, being sustainable is synonymous with consumer demand, value added and competitiveness.

From production, is synonymous with producing balance between respect for workers, protecting the environment and incorporating the social environment the same principles to be replicated by future generations. "The consumer is no longer seeking just the size, price, quality, or that the food is healthy. The world wants to consume products makers, ie that meet environmental and social standards, which have a commitment to the society in which it occurs "says Mauricio Ferro, director of Conservation and Development Certified CYD, company that created a sustainability standard applied in several thousand hectares of crops in different countries. While not yet mandatory, what consumers are doing what they know is preferring coming from producers who are also concerned about it.

"Right now internationally sustainability is one of the most important aspects appreciated by the market and consumers. Then supermarkets are asking their suppliers to show a sustainability program. Rather than make measurements, ask companies to incorporate this, they have their own program where you can see that there is a job and you can verify that the indicators are improving, "says Paola Conca, head of the Department of Commerce Sustainable ProChile.

The subject matter becomes even analysis in international conferences, most recently at the Fourth Pan American Congress of Agronomists, and the 27th Congress of Agronomists of Brazil, where the theme was "Sustainable Agriculture, Brazil viable".

Claudio Ortiz, former president of the College of Agriculture of Chile and former president of the Pan American and World, who was invited to the event in Brazil to expose more than 1,500 attendees on sustainability in agriculture, explains that what happens is that producers are making changes, many of high impact, but we must go further. "It means a change in mindset of teachers, teachers in universities and colleges, at the level of organizations and from the political system", says the agronomist.

The country is already recognized, not only private level, the need for the agro-export and producer are sustainable, because it gives advantages compared to increasing competition.

"To ProChile is important that the model exists and is replicated. Nowadays differentiation can mean international competition. In a couple of years will not be, therefore, the sooner it is implemented and communicated, is more important "emphasizes Paola Conca.

What is to be sustainable

Since being sustainable is a trend that falls within that have been popping up, such as traces of water or carbon, globally there is a single standard on what it takes to be sustainable.

But the concept is clear.

"Sustainability is much more than being organic or being socially responsible, because one of them does not necessarily comply with the other. Neither is the extreme environmentalist who says not to touch, even if people starve.'s Balance between generating income, social impact and environmental protection. That must be very clear. ultimate goal is to reduce and, if possible, eliminate the impacts generated by agricultural production in all areas, but at the same time be profitable "Ferro emphasizes .

As with other standards, for now it is companies that are beginning to create their own. Thus, these supermarkets are asking their suppliers to show what they are doing in these areas. And, if possible, prefer to have some backing to prove it.

"We came to the first Chilean farmers through contact made us Dayka & Hackett, who had an interest in that its suppliers could work with certain standards," says Ferro.

CYD, which is part of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, started his work on agricultural sustainability working with coffee, then flowers, in Central America.

It was from there that, in conjunction with the Rainforest Alliance, which is the international secretariat of the Network-evaluated all the negative impacts that can generate agricultural activity and, on this basis, developed a standard that considers 10 principles currently seeking changes allow lower-and if possible eliminate, these impacts in order to protect the surrounding environment, workers and local communities.

Four years ago they landed in Chile and made contact with some grape growers in the central and north, through contacts made by retail chains in the U.S. and Europe. The first Chilean who started working with those standards were Alduna group, with grapes and kiwi, then joined Cochiguaz Agriculture, Agricultural Bellavista and El Cerrito. In these four years and working with about 50 domestic companies. And there have been surprises.

"Chilean producers who are working with us is an example of global sustainability, because more than just meet a standard, undertake and inserted into a process of continuous improvement. Potatoes and grapes in Chilean producers we work with are the world's best in these matters and that supermarkets are recognizing the U.S. that are seeking "emphasizes Ferro.

Not as expensive

When we talk about sustainability what is sought is that the producer involved and make changes that endure over time, and a result can be the gain in competitiveness, which can carry potential as an added benefit a better income.

"We will not be sustainable the objective is to earn more. What is sought is to raise awareness of the importance of being sustainable and therefore changes are made," says the specialist.

These changes are not necessarily costly.

 For example, one of the agricultural working in CYD plastic tape used to tie their clusters. When they said it left a strong imprint on the environment, replaced by others of reeds or other biodegradable material, as a way to avoid contaminating the soil. Other companies are establishing protected areas for conservation of flora and fauna within their own premises, in the north even been able to recover the red-tailed fox in an area that was not-although this may mean leaving an area without producing. Some way to reforest a watershed recovery. The Elqui Valley is working to generate its own energy and have also established protection zones and management camelids for restocking.

Many of the changes that are being generated are motivated by business interest, even if they are exporting.

This starts with what you are doing Pepsico Chile, where its producers have been a number of advances even though your product is not going to the international markets, but the local. "These producers are examples worldwide. They have an entire mobile infrastructure to prevent contamination. Is, they have bathrooms, cellars, mobile showers. Technological systems also installed to prevent the loss or misuse of water. And are working with local communities, as some peoples, to see how to incorporate their own potatoes, "he stresses.

Although words seem to become more sustainable, especially for SMEs in agriculture with few resources, the reality is that sometimes the changes are minor and not all involve costs, and may even generate profits from the economic standpoint.

"You can not ask a small producer of an acre to make a super hold. Important thing is what it does, so be it small, do it well. Here it comes to applying logical processes. We need to maximize this, on especially in areas where there is a crisis. too The world is losing biodiversity are not protecting water resources, and soil. should be care for, "he emphasizes Ferro.

Making small changes can mean, besides being sustainable, even lower costs.

"In Chile there are many producers who make applications for monitoring program and not. When using monitoring can be done a specific control, which means lowering the use of products as they are used only when needed. You can also do things like calibration of sprayers. knows that when they are not well adjusted between 12% and 37% higher cost for use of products, machinery and labor. That's without considering all the collateral costs, "says Ortiz. The important thing here is that with awareness the decision to move forward, taking the definitions and make them known.

 "Can not you talk about that a sustainable business if you do not have a sustainability policy, a philosophy that know your employees, consumers, buyers. That's the way how you put into practice these things. I can not say" I'm sustainable "'and not have litter control, of water. producers can prepare, deliver tools to have internal auditors in sustainability. has to be something real, measurable" emphasizes Ferro.

Much more than the environment

But, when it comes to sustainability becomes very important to incorporate local communities, it is what will allow actions have a much broader reach and perpetuated over time.

"The idea is that the producer is not only an observer or resource extraction, but is a development center in your area. The aim should be inserted in the community, creating inclusive generation chains, which can cause changes in the community . For example, in school educating children on environmental issues, as they are transformed into promoters. They then come to their homes and begin to make families incorporate them. Eventually the entire community begins to protect the environment and social benefit of that is permanent in time. The objective is to support the development of people with sustainability look, regardless of their training, "notes Ferro.

They advance specific cases, such as agricultural Dalbosco, which incorporated the entire community which is inserted into the waste management, distinguishing between organic and non, and then placed in a company to take care of that.

"You can not talk about sustainability if you're an active group in the community. Processes are long term", says the specialist.

There are some things that can help companies implementing sustainable measures can make that also becomes an added value.

"For example, actions such as an inventory of the flora and fauna of the field as a contribution. But you have to go public within the company so that everyone is aware and know they have to protect. Thus been reforested with a tree, if you are doing things, we must mention. Both positive and which are not. The idea is that there is transparency, because that's what consumers are looking for.'s why there are companies overseas that to select their suppliers creep to their website and watch their reality, "says Ferro.

48 Chilean companies, 16 rivers surrounding production areas, 6318 ha of forests and afforested has CYD

Supermarkets in U.S. and favor companies that have sustainability programs and show progress on them.

 Potential Chile "As our economy is based on exports are areas where we are working. One of these is the food, especially wine and and reaching the final producer labeled. Perhaps the most advanced Here are the wines . All other sectors have done on specific issues, the agricultural sector has good agricultural practices, Eurogap ie in Chile that has to do with safety is being done, but there are still important areas for progress. The key is to go incorporating these concepts and applying them, "notes Paola Conca.

Ferro, who is from Chile but living in Ecuador, stresses that the country has a comparative advantage relative to many countries in the region.

"Chile has a well structured legislation. A Chilean and one Peruvian peasant are two totally different realities. Then Chile has a very solid base. Has solved many other issues are far from resolved, such as labor issues, health and safety occupational, there are good technical institutions. Chile people do not realize what you have. Chile has a plus and have to use it. What has been done in Chile has not been done anywhere. Yet the country has a unique potential to not take advantage. "

But the country has major threats: no energy and mining heavy.

"The advantage is that there is a level of consciousness of society" emphasizes Ferro.

Some progress vienenEn ProChile have a sustainability program in 2014, working through partnerships and workshops where these issues are discussed and talking. From it were generated advances that serve as examples for starting not make the same mistakes. Studies also audiences you can access via the web. Among them are one of the carbon footprint which mapped the entire process which means producing olive oil, and what are the most important measures to reduce it. There is also a carbon footprint guide from A to Z.Asimismo within a month begins a study to raise the status of Chilean export sector and compare with what these markets require to determine the gaps, and be proposed that sustainability programs.

Last modified on Friday, 14 March 2014 19:24

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