The industrialized approach
With agri-food at the heart of our global food system, our main reliance in recent decades has been on industrial agriculture. The advancement of technology in the nineteenth century, lead to farming and agriculture, as with many other industries, being elevated from an artisan scale towards mass industrial factories. Nurturing this change in scale were technical innovations and human labour, while the natural environment paid its expense.
Today, agricultural production is dominated by large farms growing the same crops year after year, using vast amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers thereby damaging soils, water and air. This traditional approach represents a system not built to last, as it squanders and deteriorates the resources it depends on.
Counteracting this development, are a growing number of farmers and scientists who want to transition towards a more sustainable approach to farming, i.e. including environmental, social and economic considerations. Building on the idea of sustaining the natural resources needed, they are striving to incorporate science-based practices which minimize the environmental impact.
A new way
Including sustainability within agriculture poses a great variety of challenges as well as opportunities. At the forefront of this sustainability transformation is the concept of agroecology. With innovative techniques and the development of best practices, this new approach looks to reduce the ecological impact while optimizing the yield available. Exact action taken might vary, as this method seeks to support farmers of all sizes and sources and adapt to local conditions and regional markets.
The Dutch agricultural industry, counted amongst one of the largest globally,has become an energetic proponent of this movement. There is a strong emphasis on factors beyond food production, such as biodiversity, landscape preservation and an appreciation of nature in the countryside. Young farmers, especially in the Netherlands, are increasingly engaging in agroecological initiatives. The potential opportunities for change towards a more sustainable agricultural system include nurturing and maintaining healthy soil, decreasing and minimising air pollution, and taking proactive measures to promote biodiversity.
As such, it is important to remember that there is not one particular set of farming practices which fit all ecologicalconditions or different farming systems. For organisations involved in the production or processing aspects of the agricultural industry, greater opportunities might lie in other agroecological practices such as crop rotation, integrating livestock and crops or eliminating tillage.
Another focus area within agroecology is water and wastewater usage. Within one of our recent projects, the traditional Greek Feta producer DODONI has been looking towards investing in a new wastewater treatment plant. Thereby, the company aimed to boost its responsible resource management and achieve significant water savings within its production processes.
For DODONI, this initiative represented another step towards agroecology. In recent months, the company has already optimized its transport, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions released. Looking at the social side of business, DODONI moreover fosters strong relationships with its suppliers, whereby the support of local farmers is encouraged and built upon.
The long-term consideration
Agroecology offers an immense opportunity for the future of the agri-food industry and it is a process which will develop and evolve overtime. But this is no time to hesitate, as starting early can make the difference. We at SCG can help you find the right tools to begin and help you strengthen your future.
SCG supports businesses and investors in acquiring the necessary green financing to achieve their sustainable ambitions. We utilize a unique approach, combining sustainability and (project) financing.
Involve us in your future sustainability plans and together we will realize a profitable and environmentally friendly reality based on sustainable finance rates.
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