In the mountainous terrain in the south of China sits the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where more than 60 percent of the country cane sugar is produced. It's also where Coca-Cola is expanding its support of the Guangxi Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative, a project focused on sustainable agricultural irrigation and industrialization.
Launched in 2011 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE), the Ministry of Water Resources, and the Guangxi government, the initiative provides reliable and efficient sugarcane irrigation solutions.
“Coca-Cola is promoting sustainable agriculture and water replenishment projects globally,” said Dr. Huaying Zhang, vice president of sustainabilit, Coca-Cola Greater China and Korea. “The launch and promotion of the Guangxi Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative has significantly improved irrigation efficiency, and also guaranteed the stable production and quality of cane sugar.”
Coca-Cola has been helping to provide safe drinking water to farmers, boosting water-use efficiency by helping to optimize rrigation facilities and methods, and promoting reuse of the treated nutrient-rich wastewater from the sugar milling process for irrigation purposes, thereby conserving water resources and increasing sugarcane yield at the same time. In addition, Coca-Cola constructed and improved pipelines for local farmers to access clean drinking water, making it a sustainable agriculture demonstration project.
“We’ve turned wastewater into nutrient-rich water for irrigation and are using drip irrigation to conserve water. Sugarcane production was increased and our incomes grew considerably," said Li Jianchao, a villager from Bayang, Jiangzhou District, Chongzuo City in Guangxi -- the site of the new project. "With access to clean drinking water, our life quality has been improved.”
The Guangxi Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative has simultaneously boosted sugarcane production and replenished an estimated 2.7 billion liters water per year for local communities. The initiative benefits more than 6,000 sugarcane farmers directly and 150,000 people in local communities indirectly, including a large number of ethnic minority women and children.
Due to success of the initial phase, and in collaboration with COFCO Tunhe Chongzuo Sugar Co., Coca-Cola recently introduced a pilot program to create a demonstration water-saving irrigation project. The pilot focuses on mechanical planting, with benefits anticipated to extend across the company’s value chain. The project, now operational, is expected to cover 66,666 hectares of sugarcane-growing farmland in Bayang over the next five years.
Water resource management and protection is a top priority for Coca-Cola and a key environmental issue for the Chinese government. Working toward shared goals has been critical to the success of the project. Considered a flagship program for UNDP China, results from the Guangxi Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative will contribute to meeting several of the Sustainable Development Goals, with the hope that successful practices will be replicated in other developing regions and countries.
The Guangxi Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative contributes to The Coca-Cola Company’s global goal to replenish 100 percent of the water used in its finished beverages by 2020, a milestone Coca-Cola China is estimated to have achieved at the end of 2014, making China one of the first of seven markets projected to have locally met Coca-Cola’s water replenishment goal.
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