Last year, Nestle committed to investing $1.2 Bn over five years to support regenerative farming by impacting more than 5 Lakh farmers and 1.5 Lakh suppliers in its value chain, PepsiCo set an ambitious goal to deploy regenerative practices across 7 Mn acres by 2030, Unilever has released a set of Regenerative Agriculture Principles that will be tested to understand the support that farmers need and measures that will deliver real impact.
What is in it for the huge corporations and farmers in supporting and adopting regenerative farming practices? And why is it important?
Firstly, regenerating farming practices focus on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, and increasing resilience to climate change. Cover cropping, Nutrient management, Reduced or no tillage, and Crop rotation are four elements of regenerative farming.
Elements of Regenerative Farming
Why Regenerative Farming?
Across the world, customers are driving sustainability by supporting sustainable ways of doing business. According to a recent study by Business Wire, 85% of people indicate that their purchase behaviour has become sustainable. Companies that do not have sustainability as their value proposition are to face reputational risk sooner and lose market share to sustainable businesses.
According to Unilever, they need 4 Mn hectares of land to grow the raw materials for their products which are consumed by 3.4 Bn people every day. So is the case of many other corporates in the consumer segment. It has become crucial that they become sustainable and help fight climate change to survive in the long term. For Farmers, regenerative farming can improve soil health and water quality, leading to improved yield and better margins up to 30%. They also have an additional revenue stream from selling carbon credits.
When it comes to adopting these practices, is not as easy as it sounds. According to a report by Bain & Company, farmers can improve their margins up to 30%, but not right away. They will experience yield loss for two seasons as the soil is reconditioned. They make profits only in the fifth or sixth season. Most of the farmers in India or even globally, do not have the resources to bear the initial loss during this transition phase. They need financial and technical support for the transition to happen.
To start with, companies buying commodities from farmers in bulk can support them by giving financial assistance, paying premium prices for sustainable products, and offering technical guidance. Later, Agritech companies and Agri Fintech companies can provide the farmers with the infrastructure or financial support they need. Government can also step in to support the regenerative practices adopted by the farmers by setting a Minimum Selling Price for those products, offering various subsidies, and providing technical guidance.
By adopting all four types of Regenerative farming, one can cut carbon emissions by more than half. Globally, agriculture and waste represent nearly 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing this will bring us one step closer to meeting the net zero goals. This can also improve the soil health and life of farmers in the long run.