A group of large fmcg, farming and co-op organisations have agreed a unified definition for what regenerative agriculture means.
The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform announced the launch of its global framework for regenerative agriculture with the backing of over 30 agriculture co-operatives, industry giants and 170 SAI Platform members including Nestlé, Danone, Unilever and PepsiCo.
Designed to provide the industry with a globally aligned approach for the transition to regenerative agriculture practices, the Regenerating Together framework and broader programme aims to bring about large-scale, long-term system change to future-proof global food supply.
Over 20 leading fmcg companies and farmer co-operatives have developed and tested the framework across their global supply chains, including McCain.
“Establishing an agreed definition of regenerative agriculture is critical to the future of the industry and protecting global food supply,” said Dominik Klauser, director of regenerative agriculture at SAI Platform. “Regenerating Together offers, for the first time, alignment for businesses of all sizes from large food and drink companies to small family farms.”
He said regenerative agriculture previously hadn’t had the credibility or clarity other farming methods had.
“A common set of defined, globally relevant and locally applicable outcomes and metrics will allow the industry to make decisions and develop policies and incentivisation mechanisms using tangible data,” he added.
The framework is designed for practical use at farm level to drive farmers’ transition to regenerative agriculture and identifies four key areas of impact: water, soil, biodiversity and climate.
It has devised four steps through which to enact the framework: risk screening assessment, outcome selection, the adoption of principles and practices, and the monitoring and assessment of progress.
“Having piloted the resources with our growers, I see the potential this can have to provide clarity and consistency on what regenerative agriculture means and the outcomes we are looking to achieve,” said Yves Leclerc, global director of agriculture sustainability at McCain.
However, there are concerns the framework falls short of addressing industry concerns regarding farmer livelihoods and income.
“Support for dedicated funding and outcomes focused on farmers should be a critical component of any framework, and we welcome their intention to develop this area further,” said Jo Raven, director of thematic research & corporate innovation at FAIRR.
FAIRR analysis released last month revealed a disconnect between what the agrifood sector is saying and doing on regenerative agriculture. The research revealed a wide variation in target-setting, making comparisons between companies challenging for investors and “making clear the need for transparent reporting”.
“Investors would welcome an outcome-based approach that allows companies to measure and report against results from regenerative practices, and that shows how discourse on regenerative agriculture fits into wider company strategy,” she added.