As a concept, stewardship has strong spiritual roots. However, you don’t have to be religious to adhere to the principle that we must protect the planet and its resources on behalf of future generations. We are not the owners of everything around us; we are simply the cultivators, managers and custodians.
In the context of agriculture, stewardship is an extremely practical matter relevant to every person, given that the actions of producers and agricultural actors have a direct impact on the environment and natural resources – and who determines whether we whether or not we have food on our tables. .
The requirement and the responsibility not to destroy what we have, consist of three facets with regard to agriculture:
- The rapidly growing world population demands the production of more food. The problem is that we don’t really have any uncultivated arable land anymore. On the contrary, urbanization and development are increasingly encroaching on existing farms. The result is that you have to do more with less.
- The scarcity of natural resources, soil and water in particular, requires responsible and sustainable production. We cannot afford to destroy soil fertility or pollute or deplete water sources in the name of production. In the short term, this causes, among other things, food security problems; in the longer term, food security is at stake.
- To meet both of these challenges, growers rely heavily on crop protection products and technology. Product stewardship is therefore also on the agriculture agenda: the products and technology at our disposal must be protected so that they can remain usable to help achieve optimal yields. The strict regulatory environment has led to an astronomical increase in research and development costs for new phytosanitary molecules. The food industry is therefore under enormous pressure to preserve and even extend the life of existing products by handling and using them responsibly and according to guidelines. In doing so, we not only aim for the continued effectiveness of the compounds, but we also limit any possible negative impact on the environment or the general well-being of humans and animals to an absolute minimum.
InteliGro’s stewardship philosophy is comprehensive, extensive and integrated – and is at the heart of our business model.
We have always believed that there is more than one solution to every problem. Therefore, we follow an integrated approach to pest and disease management, which is evident in crop solutions that combine chemical and biological options. Examples include the incorporation of biological control measures such as micro- and macro-organisms, plant extracts and mass capture techniques. Biological control measures have no negative impact on the environment and can be used by growers in the production of low or no-residue products, which means they are also safe for consumers.
In terms of product stewardship, we believe the answer lies in empowering people. We therefore invest significant resources in hosting spray clinics where growers and their employees are trained in the safe handling and effective application of agricultural products.
Effective application greatly reduces the possibility of resistance developing in target pests and largely eliminates negative environmental impacts. It also positively influences producer profitability, given the correlation between product handling and action, and desired control results.
Spray clinics further focus on the safe handling of agricultural products to protect the health of farm workers, as well as the well-being of the environment and natural resources. The latter is specifically addressed through training and practical support in the management of product waste.
InteliGro’s stewardship approach includes investing in CropLife approved collection points at InteliGro depots. Producers and their staff are taught to triple rinse empty containers before returning them to collection points where they can be recycled safely and responsibly. This service not only solves a headache of waste; it also facilitates market access for producers who must comply with strict export regulations.
Stewardship’s focus on future generations is reflected in our InteliGro Kidz program through which we invest in young people. In cooperation with agricultural high schools in particular, we aim to make a positive difference by exposing learners to opportunities in the wider agricultural industry, promoting environmental awareness and encouraging stewardship.
While very rewarding, this interaction with the younger generation is also part of our investment in the future and sustainability of agriculture in South Africa, knowing that the producers of tomorrow hold our continued existence in their hands.
Companies have a responsibility to their shareholders, investors, employees and other stakeholders to implement their business strategy profitably. The mandate of agricultural companies is to optimize performance, but never at the expense of people, the environment and animals.
Stewardship in agriculture is a shared responsibility with a role for producers, suppliers, consumers and all other stakeholders, and for it to be visible in our solutions, how we do things is equally important. than what we do.