24 Aug 2012 --- Large soy farms in China will start working together with Solidaridad towards the first responsibly produced soy in China. It is a breakthrough because for the first time sustainability issues are addressed in the Chinese soy production.
China is the single largest consumer and importer of soy in the world as well as the 4th largest producer. In a country where non-governmental organizations have little influence achieving higher benefits for farmers with reduced environmental impact is challenging. Bringing two large farms, the Sinograin North and Nenjiang farm, under the rules of the international standard for responsible soy (RTRS) is unique.
International Programme Manager for Soy at Solidaridad, Gert van der Bijl; “It is crucial for responsible soy to establish a presence and a reputation in China, to demonstrate the benefits to the industry, relevant ministries, soy processing companies and individual farmers.”
The project approved under the Farmer Support Programme will start with two large soy farms that cover an area of in total 50,000 hectares of soy and employ 3000 workers, the Sinograin North and Nenjiang farm.
Mr Wang Feng, Director of the North Division of Sinograin: “I hope that the Farmer Support Programme can improve the internal management systems and generate benefits to local soy producers through the introduction of the RTRS standard. The programme will also bring market opportunities for China by meeting international standards.
The large farms already have support programmes for regional smallholder farmers. The next step is that smallholders will follow the farms in using the RTRS standard and as a result will achieve higher productivity and responsible production. There are 28,000 small farmers in the area with average land ownership of 0,4 hectares.
BeThe programme focuses on two key challenges in the region Nenjiang; reducing poverty amongst soy farmers, whose annual income is less than € 150 from soy plantation and on reducing overuse of chemicals which leads to low crop quality and pollution.
In 2015 the programme is expected to result in;
• Reduction of costs by 10 % due to lower input of herbicide and fertilizers
• A better market price as a result of the introduction of better soy variety and (higher level protein)
• 10 % increase of turnover per farm as a consequence of higher crop quality
• Income growth of 20 % for local smallholders
Van der Bijl, hopes the new programme is just a first step on the Chinese market. “If we can show that the Solidaridad approach and working with RTRS improves the livelihood of farmers and reduces the environmental impact we hope that we can do more and expand our activities to support soy farmers on the Chinese market.”