SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — A new partnership will work with farmers in the Cerrado region of Brazil to adopt more sustainable farming practices.

The Soft Commodities Forum (SCF) of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development will work with Solidaridad, an international network organization. The partnership aims to contribute to the protection of existing natural habitats in Cerrado. Members of the SCF include Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge, Cargill, COFCO International, Glencore Agriculture and Louis Dreyfus Co.

The SCF and Solidaridad will engage directly with farmers in the region and understand what they need to expand and improve soy production through efficient and sustainable land use. The partnership initially will focus on parts of Matopiba, a livestock and agricultural area in the Cerrado biome, one of the world’s most biodiverse savannahs, where a large portion of Brazilian soy is grown to meet rising global demand and support local economies. Matopiba was chosen as the first focus region because there are concerns about the high rates of native vegetation conversion driven by agriculture in this region, despite positive trends elsewhere in the Cerrado.

The initial phase of the project will interview 80 farmers to assess current practices and understand key trends in land use dynamics in the region. Interviews will take place over the next few months in accordance with all applicable COVID-19 health and safety measures. Key objectives are to collaborate with farmers and co-develop approaches that demonstrate the compatibility of profitable soy production with low-carbon and climate-smart practices.     

“If we are to promote profitable soy production along low-carbon and climate-smart practices, we must begin by listening to farmers to better understand the region, and hear directly from them about the pressures they are facing,” said Diane Holdorf, managing director Food and Nature at WBCSD and SCF spokesperson. “To help us achieve our goals, we are excited to partner with Solidaridad which has a record of working directly with producers in a variety of markets and will help us explore how we can best support farmers to ensure their land can sustain long-term production in harmony with the environment. This partnership is perfectly aligned with the SCF commitments to drive impact at landscape level, as highlighted in our latest progress report.”

Joyce Brandão, conservation and agriculture program manager at Solidaridad Brazil said, “We are looking forward to partnering with the SCF, and especially to helping soy farmers make their needs known to the international community. Soy production and environmental conservation in the Cerrado can be achieved together, but farmers, as the ones working with the land, are the key partners. Our experience of working with producers to help grow soy production over available agricultural lands means we know there is the potential for even more sustainable practices. They give farmers greater profit potential and ensure the maximum survival of the Cerrado biome for future generations.”