SAI Platform’s General Manager, Peter Erik Ywema contributed to the opening session of the Responsible Business Forum on Food and Agriculture in Manila (July 2014), and triggered considerable interest and questions among participants about SAI Plattform’s tools and approach. The Forum explored innovative and collaborative approaches to improving agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability across key commodity value chains.
The theme of the session Peter-Erik participated in was Climate Change , Food security and Rural Development - Connecting the Dots. Peter-Erik spoke about how agriculture, or rather sustainable agriculture, connects those three through protecting and saving natural resources and providing a decent live for farmers and their workers and animals.
He also commented on how we have all spent time on definitions and content of sustainable agriculture, and he highlighted developments in the world of voluntary sustainability standards. Pretty much all current standards address sustainability in similar ways.
He argued that we haven’t spent enough time yet however on getting sustainable agriculture to work in practice. “We have used certification for leverage, and that has proven to be an effective approach to some extent.” But increasingly we hear about “certified poverty” or “hard to measure impacts”, he added.
He also pointed out that we need to start asking ourselves why all the good sustainable agriculture practices aren’t working as a snowball, automatically, and self-propelling: “If sustainable agriculture thinking really brings the prosperity we claim it brings, why is it so difficult?” And “Why does a farmer feel it as compulsory, an interference with his life, and an additional burden?”
In line with this, one of Peter Erik’s key messages was that we need additional routes that complement- not replace- the current implementation route. As an example of such complementary approach, SAI Platform has developed and launched Farm Sustainability Assessment.
FSA combines 3 things in one: 1. a unified company description of requirements, a sustainable agriculture code for any company wanting to support sustainable agriculture, 2. an on-farm sustainability assessment tool for all crops, farm sizes and regions, and 3. a tool to benchmark. It primarily serves to communicate and stimulate sustainable practices, but can also be verified or certified, if needed.
SAI Platform is currently also working on a Farmer Partnership Guide including useful insights and good practices for local partnerships with farmers, addressing possible hurdles, and leveraging opportunities for adopting sustainable agriculture practices.For more information about FSA, see.