Recognising change-makers in sustainable sugarcane

26th March 2020

It is our pleasure to announce the winners of this year’s Bonsucro Inspire Awards! This year Bonsucro’s Inspire Awards focused on how our nominees are helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year, entries came from South America, North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The judges were impressed with the diversity of the projects and commitment to sustainability and the scores were exceptionally close.

The winners are:

People: The Coalition for Sustainable Sugarcane – Grupo Azucarero Mexico, PepsiCo, Proforest, One Peterson, Bonsucro

In 2018 – 2019, Grupo Azucarero Mexico (GAM), with the support of PepsiCo, certified their Tala Mill and its mill-run plantations, under the Bonsucro Standard. Since then, this partnership has begun to actively engage Mexican smallholders in Tala Mill’s supply area in a piloting of the Bonsucro Smallholders Standard. The programme includes capacity building of Tala’s technical personnel and smallholder farmers and the dissemination of learnings with the wider sector.

The judges were excited by the level of engagement and partnerships with multiple organisations and these organisations’ commitment to the SDGs. One judge described the project as a “Great example of stakeholder engagement and partnership for sustainable development.”

Planet: The Live Soil programme by Pantaleon

The Live Soil programme promotes sustainable agricultural practices in sugarcane by identifying, isolating, reproducing and applying native innocuous microorganisms, while implementing sound farming practices.

Pantaleon’s initiative takes place in Guatemala (on 13 623 ha of land) and Nicaragua (on 1 063 ha of land). The project has led to a 40% reduction of disease damage with the use of positive microorganisms and without the use of fungicides. In addition, there has been a 60% reduction in the presence of soil pests, eliminating the use of insecticide. Another notable result is a 20% reduction in the use of conventional sources for nitrogen fixation due to the introduction of nitrogen fixing bacteria.

One judge commented that, “As soil degradation has become a global concern for farming communities, while impacting SDGs 6,12 and 15, the Pantaleon Live Soil project is an innovative and holistic approach combining economics, research, measurement standard and assessment, communication and education to address the need and vulgarization of proper soil management by enhancing productivity and resiliency through improved soil health mechanism.”

Profit: The Meetha Sona Unnati project by DCM Shriram Ltd.

The Meetha Sona Unnati project, by DCM Shriram Ltd. gives support to small scale growers by focusing on productivity improvements, conservation of water resources, and soil health enhancement. The programme was created to respond to the specific needs of DCM’s farmers in the Districts of Hardoi and Lakhimpur in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Meetha Sona Unnati has customised agronomy and water-management practices to suit local agro-climatic and socio-economic conditions of the project area. By using a cascade approach to training, Meetha Sona Unnati has created a team of extension workers and Lead Farmers who will continue to spread knowledge after the project ends. Currently, the project is working with 8,000 lead farmers and an extension team. Together, they have the capacity to reach 200,000 farmers. The project has purposefully ensured that scalability is possible due to simplicity of practices. Over five years, this initiative has led to an improvement in yield by 14 tonnes per hectare and 275.39 billion litres of water being saved.

One judge said, “This project was impressive for its scale and ambition. It yields many lessons for working with smallholders and improving yields with a tailored approach.”

The judges on the panel were:

  • Dina Ramgobeen – Corporate Social Environmental Responsibility Officer, Alteo,
  • Kiran Wadhwana – Owner, Comdex India Ltd. and Bonsucro Ambassador,
  • Dr Suani Coelho – Coordinator of GBIO – Research Group on Bioenergy, University of São Paulo,
  • Patrick Dessources – Executive Director, Caseli and Bonsucro Member’s Council,
  • Danielle Morley – CEO, Bonsucro

This year’s entries covered a wider breadth of work than ever before. The scores were close, and the judges listed seven organisations with particularly high scores as the runners up. These are:

  • Canegrowers Australia
  • Copersucar
  • ED&F Man
  • Godavari
  • Ledesma
  • Orplana
  • VerifiK8

Although we were unable to hand these awards out in person at Bonsucro Global Week in Mexico due to the Covid-19 crisis, the sense of celebration should be the same. A huge congratulations to both the winners and the runners up and thanks to our sponsor, UPL.