Laudes, IDH and WWF collaborative brings brands, governments, farmers and civil society together to promote regenerative agriculture and sustainable sourcing
29th April 2022, Bhopal: The Regenerative Production Landscape Collaborative (RPL Collaborative), founded by Laudes Foundation, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, and WWF India, has kickstarted the formation of public-private-community partnerships (Compacts) between Inditex, H&M Group, IKEA, Neutral, PepsiCo India, Samunnati, Jayanti Spices, INI Farms and S.V. Agri. The multi-stakeholder Compact also includes key-decision makers such as civil society organisations SRIJAN, Action for Social Advancement, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme; and farmer producer organisations.
The first Compact is being formed in Chhindwara District, Madhya Pradesh (MP), which will reach 20,000 farmers, and bring 20,000 hectares under regenerative agricultural practices. The second Compact will cover eight districts in western Madhya Pradesh, including parts of the Narmada Basin to reach 120,000 farmers in the State.
The RPL Collaborative contributes to revitalising soil health, boosting smallholder farmer incomes, improving access to water, enhancing biodiversity, and addressing gender equity through the multi-stakeholder Compacts. Members of a Compact work together to leverage sustainability and social commitments at scale and mobilize financial support for sustainability projects at the landscape level. It allows businesses to source responsibly while creating inclusive supply chain relationships, provides smallholder farmers and communities to thrive through greater participation in decision-making, and lets producers grow agri-commodities using natural and regenerative farming principles that restore natural resources and reduce emissions from farming systems.
Mr. Ajit Kesari, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Farmer Welfare and Agriculture, Government of Madhya Pradesh formally announced the Compact at an event in Bhopal. He said,
“Madhya Pradesh has been a frontrunner in sustainable agriculture. With our rich biodiversity, climatic diversity and topographical variations, we take pride in contributing to ~8% of the total food grain and ~25% of total pulse and oil seeds production in India. To reduce the impact of climate shocks we are heavily committed to promoting regenerative and landscape- based agriculture. This Compact will funnel investments into the region, enable better markets for farmers, ensure credit access and convergence with government policies and encourage companies to source sustainably.”
Preeti Maithil Nayak, IAS, Director, Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh said, “Madhya Pradesh is one of the leading states in terms of agriculture potential and productivity. However, we need a fresh approach to farming for food security and a better environment. In view of this, the Madhya Pradesh government has launched a crop diversification promotion scheme to promote crop diversification and investments in agriculture. We look forward to joining hands with the industry stakeholders in the RPL Collaborative to support the farmers.”
Ms Anita Chester, Partner Designate, Laudes India LLP said:
“I am excited to see how the RPL Collaborative has grown. It is a unique multi-stakeholder initiative helping to address climate change and inequality, and catalyse system change from soil to society. The formation of these public-private-community partnerships are driving transition towards an inclusive, climate-positive economy, and I encourage businesses, investors, donor communities and producers to continue working together on regenerative landscape-based practices and steering the course for impact in the region.”
Highlighting the importance of sustainable sourcing in the collaborative, Mr Daan Wensing, Chief Executive Officer, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative said, “The existing state of agricultural production and ecosystem management requires system transformation. We need to make the shift to regenerative agriculture, to make our food and agricultural systems able to adapt to climate change. And at the same time, we need to make sure farmers own enough to invest in their own futures. The private sector can play a huge role in catalysing systems change by sourcing sustainably, investing, bringing its scale, and working together on finding new pathways towards a sustainable future.”
Vidya Soundarajan, Director, Ecological Footprint, WWF India said, “The Collaborative offers a platform for bringing in the varied actors to help maintain the integrity of the landscape and enhance the climate resilience and ecosystem benefits to the community - which forms the core of our focus”
The RPL Collaborative and CGIAR- International Rice Research Institute recently conducted a baseline landscapes diagnostics of the first compact in Chhindwara using comprehensive and complementary approaches such as household surveys, GIS and remote sensing and high-tech laboratory soil assessment.
SOME OF THE KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BASELINE FINDINGS IN THE FIRST COMPACT ARE:
• Farmer Incomes: Over 90% of farmers are dependent on agriculture as their main source of income. Annual gross income on average is INR 1,28,000.
• Access to Internet: While 95% farmers have access to a mobile phone, less than half have access to the internet.
• Crop Diversification: 98% landowners cultivated their field in kharif season but only 53% in Rabi season. The rest is fallow. Most of the landowners in the landscape cultivate only 1-2 crops in a year.
• Crop Productivity: There is a high yield gap in the region where the major cultivated crops such as cotton, maize, tur, soyabean, wheat and gram have a lower yield (up to 11 quintals/acre) than the state average and the attainable yields of these crops.
• Adoption of Sustainable Agriculture Practices: Only 25% farmers have partially adopted at least one regenerative practice on their farms.
• Agro forestry: Only 10% farmers are involved in Agroforestry which is beneficial to both farmer incomes and environment.
• Soil Health: Soil Health is poor with low nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and carbon. Farmers use of organic manure is low and reliance on pesticides and fertilizers is high.
ABOUT THE FOUNDING PARTNERS OF THE REGENERATIVE PRODUCTION LANDSCAPE COLLABORATIVE
Laudes Foundation is an independent foundation joining the growing movement to accelerate the transition to a climate-positive and inclusive global economy. Responding to the dual crises of climate breakdown and inequality, Laudes supports brave action that inspires and challenges industry to harness its power for good. Part of the Brenninkmeijer family enterprise, Laudes builds on six generations of entrepreneurship and philanthropy, working collaboratively to both influence finance and capital markets and transform industry with a focus on the built environment and fashion. For more information visit LaudesFoundation.org.
IDH, THE SUSTAINABLE TRADE INITIATIVE
IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative convenes companies, CSOs, governments and others in public-private partnerships and drives the joint design, co-funding, and prototyping of economically viable approaches to realize green & inclusive growth at scale. In 12 sectors and 12 landscapes in over 40 countries worldwide, IDH leverages business interest to drive sustainability from niche to norm, creating impact@scale on the Sustainable Development goals. For sustainable landscape management, IDH has developed a three-pronged approach of Production, Protection & Inclusion.
In its mission to take forward the agenda of environmental protection, WWF India works with varied groups of individuals and institutions across different sections of society. These alliances strive to address the common goal of conserving biodiversity, sustainably using natural resources, and maintaining ecosystems and ecosystem services for the survival of wildlife and people depending on them. WWF India has implemented organic cotton program with 6,000 cotton farmers in Chhindwara.
Quotes from Businesses & Civil Society
Ashis Mondal, Director, Action for Social Advancement (ASA): “Production-Protection-Inclusion approach, the principles of regenerative production landscape is in sync with our philosophy of land is livelihoods and the approach of participatory natural resources development. The multi-stakeholder engagement to solve a common problem of climate change is the right way forward. We would like to do our bit in this journey".
Naveen Patidar, Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) (AKRSP-I): “We have joined collaborative to further the interest of smallholder farmers of Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh. We believe that collaborative approach in the current context of climate change is the only way to protect and improve the livelihoods of smallholders of this region.”
Savita Gadare, Member, Board of Directors, COFE: "As a Farmer Producer Company, we currently work with 6000 farmers to connect them to markets, to help our community access better prices, without having to bear other costs. With the support to the Collaborative, we aim to expand our footprint and connect with more farmers, in order to serve our communities better and fulfil their needs."
Suhas Khandagale, Global Material Innovation & Strategy Manager, H&M Group: “Promoting regenerative agriculture is important for our biodiversity vision to have net positive impact through protection and restoration of natural ecosystems. We want to use our size and scale to create positive change. By collaborating with other stakeholders, we can contribute to increasing sustainable farming practices, benefiting environment & farming community. ”
Arvind Rewal, Cotton Development Manager, IKEA Group: “Today, stakeholders wish to understand the complete value chain of the products they consume. Factors such as social impact, health and safety are critical drivers. It is a business’ responsibility today to source sustainably and ethically and integrate environmental performance factors into selecting partners in our value chain."
Luis Coloma, Head of Environmental Sustainability, Inditex: “Restoring and protecting natural ecosystems is the shared responsibility of us all. The promotion of regenerative agriculture not only brings significant environmental benefits – such as restoring the soil, optimizing water management and reducing CO2 emissions – but also helps to improve the living conditions of farmers, their families and broader communities. This is a great example of our hybrid -both social and environmental- approach to sustainability.”
Purnima Khandelwal, Co-Founder, INI Farms: “INI Farms believes in power of collaboration to deliver business result. As a vertically integrated product company, we believe that it is only through farm level interventions that sustainable impact can be created both for the farmer and the environment. IDH’s Collaborative Program resonates truly with INI’s philosophy of “Sourcing Responsibly” and along with its various stakeholders build a “Healthy-Sustainable-Socially Impactful-Business”.
Syamala Gowri, Sustainability Manager, Jayanti Herbs & Spice: “Jayanti believes in adding value for its internal and external stakeholders by focusing on food-safety, transparency, and ethical sourcing across our value chain. We strive to achieve this by following a sustainable pathway, based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda. Our sustainability is measured through our commitments towards carefully selected UNSDG’s that is relevant to our business and the Herbs and Spice industry. Therefore, as a part of Jayanti's sustainability journey, our collaboration in the RPL Collaborative and with IDH strengthens our values and goals. Through mutual support, knowledge sharing and capacity building we can together achieve sustainable Herbs and Spice becoming the norm.”
Patricia Bech, Director, Neutral: “Sustainable agriculture plays a crucial role in conservation of the landscape. To protect the biodiversity, people and planet Tiger Cotton by Neutral works to convert conventional cotton farming to organic. Conventional farming use toxic pesticides, chemicals and GMO seeds, which leads to damage of soil, groundwater and wildlife. By converting to organic regenerative farming we create a win-win scenario for farmers and wildlife.”
Prasanna Khemariya, Chief Executive Officer, Self-Reliant Initiatives through Joint Action (SRIJAN), “In the spirit of achieving self-reliance joint action, SRIJAN has always been a firm believer of working in an facilitative ambience of potential collaborations. The urgently needed action around climate change and building resilience of the community in the most difficult terrain of the country is a large undertaking. Therefore, a collaborative approach is required not just to sustain individual efforts, but also gain form the diversity of other expertise, scaling up, fostering critical leverages, and strengthen the multi stakeholder approach at the ground level to bring about transformative changes and secure livelihoods of the farming community.
Hemant Gaur, Promoter Director, Siddhivinayak Agri Processing Pvt Ltd: ”We believe in increasing size of pie by adding value through customized problem solving led by innovative technologies and synergistic collaborations. RPL Collaborative fits right in our approach of effecting meaningful positive impact in potato value chain through sustainable landscape development driven by multistakeholder partnerships”
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