banner

China sustain
920 Views

China’s taste for sustainable soya could help curb deforestation


Saving the Amazon will depend partly on China’s soya importers greening their supply chains, writes Ardash Vartparonian.

Major food importers from China can play an important role in the fight against deforestation by committing to supplying the domestic market with sustainably sourced products, but persuading them to deliver will be a big challenge.

More than ten big Chinese players in the international soya trade, who together account for a quarter of the country’s record 81.69 million tonnes of soybeans imported last year, indicated support for greening their supply chains at a symposium in Beijing recently. But they haven’t yet committed to verifiable action on using supply that has been certified as “forest friendly”.

The Beijing event, co-hosted by Sanhe, HopeFull Grain and Oil Group, was organised by the China Soybean Industry Association and included representatives from civil society group Solidaridad and the US-based Paulson Institute, which promotes sustainable development in China and the US.

Liu Denggao, executive vice president of the China Soybean Industry Association, said that soya imports from Latin America’s main exporter, Brazil, would likely rise, but emphasised that the crop should be sustainably sourced.

Create awareness amongst industry buyers

“We do not want our demand for soya to lead to illegal deforestation in Brazil, and we are asking our suppliers for assurance in that respect,” he said.

Growing demand for meat from China’s new middle classes is driving the growth in South American soya imports, which are used principally to feed livestock.

Due to limited arable land, pollution and drought, China has been forced to outsource and expand soya production, prompting Chinese soya imports to shoot up 14.4 per cent year-on-year in 2015. Brazil accounts for 49 per cent of the total, with 35 per cent coming from the US and 14 per cent from Argentina.

Commercial agriculture and deforestation account for 24 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but China signalling a market demand for sustainable products would help drive behavioural change among producers and exporters, the Paulson Institute said in a press release.

In March 2015 the Paulson Institute, Solidaridad, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF launched the China-South American Sustainable Soya Trade Platform, aiming to increase the proportion of soya sourced from Brazilian farmers registered with Brazil’s Rural Environmental Registry (CAR in Portuguese), part of Brazil’s Forest Code.

However, certification remains a big problem. The Brazilian government has struggled to monitor and enforce punishments for illegal land use, as the relationship between soya production and deforestation is complex. There is little transparency in international soya markets, and so it is very difficult for Chinese importers to work out whether their soya is coming from forest friendly sources or not.

Expose your company to in excess of 3000 B2B delegates

But while there is much to do on both sides, the fact that big Chinese food importers have come together and shown a willingness to adopt more sustainable practices is a marked step forward, said Rose Niu, chief conservation officer at the Paulson Institute.

“We have a great opportunity to help China take a leadership role on greening global soya supply chains, something that is of increasing interest to the Chinese government and key importers,” Niu said.

Niu also highlighted the significance of former COFCO chairman Ning Gaoning’s declaration at the Paris climate summit in December last year that his company would ‘endorse and support’ farmers producing crops in environmentally friendly ways.

Along with COFCO, other top soya traders Jiusan Group, Hope Full Group, CP Group, Shandong Scents and Shengquan recently took part in a ‘soya industry fact-finding trip’ to Brazil to familiarise themselves with their South American suppliers.

Together, these companies accounted for 24.48 per cent of China’s total soya imports in 2015.

Besides encouraging major players from Chinese business to source legally and sustainably produced soya, consumers also have a role to play, Rose Niu said.

“This will be a long-term effort,” she told Diálogo Chino. “We need to work on raising awareness among the general public, so they understand better what they can do as consumers to help stop deforestation in Brazil and contribute to the global effort to fight climate change.”

Tumbling global commodity prices will likely sharpen companies’ focus on how they manage costs, but committing to sustainability could help them secure long-term supply chains and improve their reputations. A poor environmental record can cost companies dearly and lead to projects collapsing.

Liu underscored the importance of dialogue between producers and distributors: “China and Brazil are natural partners and have an important commercial relationship. Naturally we want closer relations and to know better the areas where the soya we import comes from.”

Expose your company to in excess of 3000 B2B delegates

Make sure you get the best SA and international green economy stories delivered to you, as frequently as you like.

Here’s how to reach more than 20,000 subscribers that are interested in green economy content

The best way to gather hundreds of qualified leads

Source: eco-business


Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle +

Recently Published

a2ginfrast
»

Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba to address African Real Estate & Infrastructure Summit in Sandton on 25 October

“Rejuvenation of the inner city a key priority for the new ...

ITC
»

Laminated timber beams to comply with regulations

The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA), South ...

worms
»

Organic waste – What to do?

Have you ever felt frustrated with the food waste that you throw ...

greenbuilding
»

Meet the Green Building Convention 2017 keynote speakers

This year, we have included speed networking stations at the GBCSA ...

school
»

Streetlights Schools: Wellness In Education

In keeping with sustainable school design and child mental health ...

gproperties25
»

Growthpoint powers innovation with its NWU Solar Car team sponsorship

Pushing the boundaries of what is possible for alternative energy and ...

A2g21
»

Waste warriors have a kiloton of fun at Schools Recycling Awards

More than 1 000 tonnes of waste has dodged the dump this year thanks ...

A2g2
»

Green Planet Laundry: Cheaper than washing at home and even your local laundromat!

The average washing machine uses 50 litres of water per load. While ...

coke1
»

Top waste-busters to be unveiled at awards event

More than half a million learners from almost 600 schools have taken ...