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Regenerative Agriculture: Transforming Land & Lives

June 5, 2024

Each year on June 5, World Environment Day brings millions of people together to celebrate environmental action and engage with the collective effort to protect and restore natural ecosystems.

The urgency to preserve our planet’s natural resources is more pressing than ever. According to the United Nations, over 2 billion hectares of land are degraded. And without collective action, this figure will increase significantly by 2030, driven in part by rising demand for agricultural products.

As a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods, LDC is committed to helping protect and restore the planet’s natural resources and ecosystems, which we all depend on, by promoting sustainable agricultural practices and minimizing the environmental impact of our business activities.

World Environment Day 2024 shines a light on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience – themes that are closely connected with LDC’s commitment to support the transition to regenerative farming practices across our value chains.

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to agriculture that focuses on the restoration of ecosystems provided by healthy soils and biodiverse farming systems. It not only builds capacity in farming but also ensures that communities make a living from their farms.

Let’s take a closer look.  

Making Coffee Stronger in Colombia

Climate change challenges coffee production worldwide, by disrupting predictable seasonal temperatures and rainfall patterns. These effects, combined with inefficient farming techniques, can lead to deforestation, soil erosion and consequent sedimentation of waterways.

In 2022, LDC established the Stronger Coffee Initiative to support coffee communities in building resilience to climate change through sustainable practices.

“Over the past year, 100 women farmers from Huila have attended training sessions on regenerative agriculture practices focusing on low-carbon coffee farming, and the community has also built a tree nursery to grow around 30,600 trees over the next three years,” says Laura Jaramillo Velez, LDC’s Coffee Sustainability Manager for Colombia.

“Women gather at the nursery weekly to exchange and share tips, making this a truly collective project,” adds Laura.

This project is run in partnership with Starbucks, whose investment and support allow for the continuation and scaling of these initiatives, so that regenerative practices can increasingly play a key role in shaping a more sustainable future for the industry.

This project in Colombia is one of many taking place across the world. From Uganda to Brazil, and from Ethiopia to Vietnam, LDC is implementing a range of similar projects. By 2027, our Stronger Coffee Initiative is expected to support the production of 180,000 MT of third party-verified, low-carbon coffee and the planting of 1.2 million shade trees as part of coffee agroforestry systems.

Growing Cotton Sustainability in India

In 2023, LDC launched a two-year regenerative agriculture program to benefit 4,000 cotton farmers from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India.

Farmers are being trained in a range of regenerative agriculture techniques, such as irrigation structures, water storage and composting, with a focus on managing changing rainfall patterns. The project also seeks to enhance financial literacy and provides access to financial services through farmer group structures, with a focus on empowering women farmers.

To ensure the initiative extends beyond the season, 30 cotton farmer groups and 60 farmer group experts are being trained following a ‘train-the-trainer’ model.

Participating farmers have received regenagri© certification (audited by Control Union), which includes training on how to improve soil health and resilience.

Reforestation Bearing Fruit in Brazil

Citrus farms managed by LDC in Brazil implement regenerative agriculture principles for sustainable fruit production. In 2023, our flagship Monte Belo Farm, in São Paulo State, became the world’s first orange farm to receive the regenagri© seal.

Our Juice Platform manages 30,000 hectares of citrus groves in Brazil across 38 citrus productive farms, where we have mapped biodiversity priority areas and developed specific biodiversity protection and conservation plans.

Each farm’s bespoke plan contains detailed measures to control invasive species, reduce road traffic, conserve soil, educate employees on biodiversity and environmental conservation, monitor emissions and create ecological ‘corridors’, principally through reforestation.

Our main reforestation strategy uses nucleation methodology, which relies on planting ‘islands’ of vegetation as focal areas of recovery, as shown in the images below. These islands are composed of species with the ecological capacity to significantly improve the environment and facilitate occupation of the area by other species.

We have so far mapped a total of around 11,000 hectares of conservation areas on LDC-managed citrus farms in Brazil, in which we planted some 50,000 native tree seedlings in 2023 alone, contributing to the rich and diverse local flora and fauna.

“Sustainability is central to all our business decisions, and conserving native biodiversity at LDC-managed farms is part of that mindset and conviction,” says Francisco Netto, our Head of Agriculture for Juice.

Looking to the Future

Recognizing that we can have the greatest impact when we join forces with others, in January 2024 LDC announced a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to develop and implement our regenerative agriculture strategy at scale.

Targeting a minimum of 3 million acres by 2030, reaching some 30,000 farmers across different commodity supply chains, our ambition is to mobilize the whole agricultural sector to accelerate action in this vital area for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation, for which collective action is key.

We look forward to continued and growing collaboration with farmers, customers, peers, governments, NGOs and other value chain partners and stakeholders, toward a more resilient, future-proofed agronomic system.

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