Seed giant Syngenta updated the public on its progress in meeting its commitments to help farmers feed the world without increased use of land, water or inputs in Brussels this week.
The company’s six global commitments, known collectively as the Good Growth Plan, are to make crops more efficient, rescue more farmland from degradation, help biodiversity to flourish, empower smallholders, keep agricultural workers safe and provide fair employment in the sector.
They have been designed to line up with the United Nations sustainable development goals.
Jonathan Parr, Syngenta’s president of global crop protection, said: “Syngenta can only provide part of the solution, but we believe we can offer expertise and knowledge which affects six key drivers of solving this equation, and of course they form the six key commitments in our Good Growth Plan.”
The company has already had some success in increasing productivity.
It works with 3,700 farms across the world – 1,000 of which are ‘reference farms’ where Syngenta protocols are in place, and 2,700 of which are ‘benchmark farms’ to use as a comparator. In 2016, the reference farms outperformed the benchmark farms by 4 per cent.
10 million hectares of land have also been targeted to improve fertility. Here, Syngenta works with farmers to improve soil health, offering them agronomy advice and access to other services in partnership with other actors such as local universities and banks.
To improve biodiversity, the company is working with environmental charities and Government bodies and claims to have ‘influenced’ almost 5 million hectares in this way.
Significant progress has also been made on training workers in developing countries on safety protocols and getting independent certification in fair labour across Syngenta supply chains.
Mr Parr said: “We are feeling very positive about the impact we are starting to have, but there is no complacency. There is still more work to be done and we will be pursuing it vigorously.”