Our strategy to advance sustainable agriculture globally is to identify the most successful agricultural programs and platforms, scale them up, and try to replicate them where they are needed around the world. Together with our partners we help suppliers and producers test and refine new techniques and methods. We also implement programs to increase efficiency and crop yields for farmers. Reaching our goal to sustainably source 100 percent of our key agricultural ingredients by 2020 requires integrating sustainability aspects into all our programs.
- Project Unnati
- Protecting Community Land Rights
- Our Agricultural Supply Chain Journey
- Project Catalyst
A leading example of one of our regional programs is Promesa Café. The Coca-Cola Company has partnered with Heifer International and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to develop this program in the agricultural region of Chiapas in Mexico, where farmers have weathered a difficult economic period due to low coffee bean prices on the market and a fungal infestation called coffee rust. The program’s aim is to help 2,000 small-scale coffee farmers develop more sustainable livelihoods.
Beginning in 2014, we have been introducing more sustainable agricultural practices, leveraging cooperative business structures, improving farmers’ management capacities and fostering gender equity by enabling women farmers in the region. We also have put a process in place to give contracts directly to coffee producers who adhere to our SAGP. Direct contracts combined with the adoption of better agricultural practices, including pest management and efficient use of fertilizer, can boost profit margins for both farmers and suppliers.
In the Chittoor district of Southern India, Project Unnati creates positive impact across many of our sustainability focus areas, including women’s empowerment, community well-being, water and sustainable agriculture. The project aims to harness the higher productivity potential of mango farms, allowing owners of small-sized farms to increase crop yields and improve their livelihoods. It is also part of our 5by20 initiative, aiming to enable 5 million female entrepreneurs in our value chain by 2020.
Phase 1 of the program propagated the method of ultrahigh-density farming for mango plantations, which significantly conserves water and land resources by using drip irrigation and high tree densities in combination with a specialized pruning process. The method also decreases the time it takes to bring new mango plantings to maturity. By the end of 2014, with joint investments of $2 million from Coca-Cola India and its partner Jain Irrigation Systems Limited, our activities resulted in
- Establishing approximately 200 demonstration farms.
- Providing active on-site training and support to an estimated 18,000 farmers by bus, which we call the Coca-Cola University on Wheels.
- Enabling approximately 3,000 women mango farmers through project support and training.
Project Unnati has moved into Phase 2, which focuses on engaging farmers at a larger scale. Facilitated by Bottling Investments Group India, the project team is reaching out to about 25,000 farmers, who collectively cultivate 50,000 acres of mango trees. Phase 2 is expected to deliver close to 300,000 tons of mango fruit by 2022 or 2023.
It has now been three years since we made our commitment on zero-tolerance for land grabs. As part of the rigorous value chain analysis of our human rights impacts that we undertake, land rights had surfaced as one of the risks. However, it was through Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign on land rights and sugar, in which we gained a greater understanding of the issue and risks. We mobilized quickly as we recognized this as a gap in our Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (SAGP). Our SAGP, which outlines our expectations to suppliers all the way to the farm level, demonstrates the importance the company places on transparency and accountability across our supply chain.
In 2014, our work on land rights has centered on building the Coca-Cola system’s knowledge and capabilities, establishing requisite policies, engaging with our NGO partners, bottlers and suppliers and advocating for respect for land rights. As part of our commitment, we are undertaking nearly 30 third-party country studies on land rights, child labor and forced labor through 2020, including those that represent our top 16 critical cane sugar sourcing countries. These studies serve as an important vehicle to build system-wide understanding of our policies and importantly enable us to better mitigate any potential future violations.
In 2013, we began a journey to better understand the key human rights risks for Coca-Cola’s extensive agricultural supply chain, and we knew we would learn a lot. We also knew that it would require significant collaboration with our suppliers, bottlers and key stakeholders to carefully examine these risks and to better prevent potential future violations.
Our third-party country sugar studies on child labor, forced labor and land rights have served as important vehicles to build an understanding of Company policies internally and a framework to undertake action in collaboration with our supply chain partners. Thus far, we have developed in-depth studies examining potential human rights impacts throughout its sugar supply chain in Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. We will continue to release additional studies throughout the year, including our work in Brazil, India, Mexico and several other countries in Africa.
This work advances the company’s longstanding commitment to driving transparency, accountability and sustainability throughout its business system and supply chain in close collaboration with bottlers, suppliers and stakeholder partners. Coke’s Human Rights Policy and Supplier Guiding Principles (SGP) provide the foundation for this commitment, which extends deep into the agricultural supply chain where many key ingredients in the company’s products originate. Promoting sustainability throughout the supply chain begins with going straight to the source to assess environmental and social impacts. This effort will take time, and Coke is working in collaboration with its bottling partners, suppliers and others to help bring about the development of a healthy agricultural supply chain for the communities in which it operates.
Through Project Catalyst, a collaboration among Coca-Cola, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), natural resource management groups Reef Catchments, Terrain, NQ Dry Tropics and the Australian government, a group of cane farmers from North Queensland are developing and testing progressive farming practices to improve the quality of water runoff.
In addition to water quality improvements, cutting-edge techniques introduced by Project Catalyst farmers focus on soil health, production efficiency, precision planning, irrigation and storm water management.
Since its launch, Project Catalyst has expanded from 15 growers and 4,800 hectares of farmland to nearly 80 growers and more than 101,725 hectares. The project has improved the quality of an estimated 100 billion liters of runoff water by reducing the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, herbicide and other pollutants flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.