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Our ability to impact positively on the world is based on the focus and scope of our businesses as they encounter some of the largest, most complex challenges facing our world. From poverty to food security, climate change and biodiversity loss – good agricultural practices have huge potential to solve for these issues.
Therefore, our success in addressing those challenges is also evidenced in the profitability and resilience of our company, achieved through such activities as our ability to build long-term relationships with customers, innovate diversified financial resourcing, and discover new opportunities for working with partners.
When we create value across stakeholders, we strengthen our business proposition and our capacity to deliver long-term results.
We work with customers, farmers, communities, peers, civil society, banks and development finance institutions, foundations, shareholders, employees, and many other organisations, which leads to collaborative partnerships and programmes that greatly extend our reach while improving our chances for success in 10 Priority Areas.
Challenge: Farmers and people engaged in the agri and food production system can earn a decent income and are resilient to external shocks.
The vast majority of the over 5 million farmers from whom we source crops, such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, and cashew operate farms on just 1 or 2 hectares in countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Indonesia, Turkey and Honduras. Combined with the vagaries of weather, infrastructure, and global market pricing, many of them operate on a fine line between success and failure with little capacity to adapt, let alone grow.
Large-scale farmers, such as those from whom we source onions and garlic in the USA, also face challenges regarding climate change, water security and cost of production.
Challenge: Provide and support safe workplaces that respect the rights of everyone.
In addition to complying with all relevant laws and international agreements in our own operations, many of our supply chains are in emerging markets across highly rural areas, and can involve intermediaries and other third-parties, which makes eradicating labour issues much more complex.
Challenge: Farming communities and our workforce can improve their technical and vocational skills.
Access to educational resources, as well as technical skills development is uneven if not wholly unavailable in many places around the world, which denies people the opportunity to improve their economic conditions. Needs can range from the basics of reading and writing to the operation of advanced machinery and application of management processes and planning. Every culture is different, as are communities.
Challenge: Improve farmer and employee wellness and longevity.
Poverty, lack of health infrastructure and access to clean water and sanitation contribute to lowered life expectancies in many of the countries upon which we rely for core crops, which also correlates with farm productivity. Those with specific health issues, whether suffering a disease or exposed to episodic risks, such as pregnant women, are particularly vulnerable.
Challenge: all people are socially and economically empowered
Explicit or implicit biases are present in every work environment, they can vary widely across geographies and cultures, and they often result from a complex combination of traditional power structures, categorisations of economic or ethnic class, and attitudes toward gender. Prohibiting any form of discrimination is the necessary framework for work opportunities and career advancement.
Challenge: Reduce, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of changing weather patterns.
Agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors account for almost a quarter of manmade global warming pollution, and its farmers, suppliers, processors, and broader communities often suffer its direct and indirect effects on livelihoods and health. Another key source of this challenge is processing, as well as transportation, both land and sea.
Challenge: Support and encourage biodiversity and effective land use.
Every crop we grow, or source is embedded in a broader, complex and delicate ecosystem in which change to one factor intended to produce a positive outcome can have negative impacts on others, thereby creating biodiversity risks to the smallest bees and the largest apes and elephants. It's made particularly challenging because most of those crops come from third-parties. Our vision is one of living landscapes where farmers and communities prosper within regenerated ecosystems.
Challenge: Protect soil and help restore degraded land.
Degraded soil affects nearly 1/3 of the Earth's land area, impacted in part by poor management practices, population pressures on the land, and use of expensive chemical fertilisers and labour-intensive organic nutrients. This results in enormous costs to the environment as well as to society's social and economic value.
Challenge: Reduce water usage while improving yields.
Half of the world's population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025, due in large part to a changing climate and the demands of increased populations. Agriculture is the largest user of water, consuming 70% of all freshwater resources. Water isn't neatly fenced by administrative or geographic boundaries, which means its uses are often challenged by interconnected and sometimes competing interests.
Challenge: Feed more people and increase farmer incomes by reducing food waste.
A third of the food currently produced never reaches our plates, and in the markets in which many of our supply chains operate as much as 40% of food is lost during harvest, drying, storage, and transport. These are particularly sobering facts considering estimates are that we'll need 50% more food by 2030 to feed the world's growing population.