Over 5,000 smallholder farmers certified in India

11th May 2021

DCM Shriram Ltd in India has achieved Bonsucro certification for three of its mills and over 5,000 smallholder farmers. This is the biggest certification of smallholder farmers Bonsucro has ever seen.

India is one of the world’s biggest sugarcane producers. The crop is grown on 5 million hectares of land by more than 6 million smallholders, making them responsible for the majority of national production. Farmers tend to own very small plots of land – on average just one hectare. This makes addressing sustainability issues a big challenge.

DCM Shriram Ltd is an Indian business conglomerate with a product portfolio that covers agri-rural business, including sugar. The business joined Bonsucro in 2018 and has been committed to improving sustainability practices and working collaboratively with smallholder farmers since then. The scope of the recent certification is very impressive and Bonsucro welcomes the news.

According to Mr. Roshan Tamak, Executive Director and CEO-Sugar Business at DCM Shriram Ltd “Bonsucro certification aligns with DCM Shriram’s Sustainable Sugarcane Program and adds value by meeting global metrics and standards with a focus to increase efficiency, reduce waste and lower energy use. At DCM Shriram we believe in improving productivity in terms of both quantity and quality with a focus on social and environmental responsibility of the raw material produced by smallholder farmers.”

The power of collaboration

Achieving certification was a collaborative effort between the sugar factory and the smallholders. “The process of Bonsucro certification was the result of a dedicated co-working between DCM Shriram and smallholders – promoting integration of sustainable models in business management based on social and environmental indicators” said Mr. Roshan Tamak. “We would like to thank each member of the team and smallholders who have actively collaborated through their work to make this certification possible.”

Plugging the gaps

Once DCM Shriram decided to work towards the Bonsucro Production Standard, the team carried out a gap analysis to identify where change was necessary. This helped form a plan to fill the gaps in the sustainability programme, the assessment also provided tangible metric targets to work towards.

DCM Shriram’s broader sustainability goals have been served well by both Bonsucro membership and certification. Mr Roshan Tamak said, “The certification process was an excellent opportunity to review and make the mechanism and efficiency of processes robust in the field and in our factories.” DCM Shriram has a business-wide commitment to sustainability that compliments Bonsucro.

The way forward

Following the certification, the factories intend to focus further on sustainability at farm level. The next step in the plan is to involve and work with the larger scale farmers who are trained for sustainable sugarcane production with an aim to improve their environmental, social and economic process efficiency to also reach the Bonsucro Standard. The plan with the smallholder sugarcane farmers is to work with them to improve their development so that they can increase their competitiveness.

The team believes that economic, environmental, and social developmental in this industry must be aligned with the future demands in crop production and therefore the businesses need to be managed sustainably. They aspire to continue learning from collaborations with peer companies and taking collective action.