PepsiCo to pump in $5 m to promote sustainable farming in India

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By MEENAKSHI VERMA AMBWANI

In 5 years, the MNC hopes to double its farmers’ network from the current 24,000

Snacks and beverages major PepsiCo plans to invest $5 million by 2020 to expand its sustainable farming programme in India. The company — which is the biggest buyer of chip-grade potato in the country — also plans to double its collaborative farming network for potato cultivation in India in the next five years.

Christine Daugherty, Global Vice-President, Sustainable Agriculture, PepsiCo, told BusinessLine: “As part of PepsiCo’s ‘Performance with Purpose Vision’, sourcing our agricultural ingredients sustainably is important for the growth of our business, food safety and to support crop resilience for continued and localised supply. India clearly is an integral part of our sustainable sourcing agenda.”

“As part of our continued commitment, we plan to invest $5 million by 2020, for expanding the Sustainable Farming Programme in India,” she added.

Collaborative farming

PepsiCo is working with over 24,000 farmers in India, mainly potato farmers. Under its collaborative farming initiative, it is working directly with potato farmers across 11 States and will double this network in the next five years.

On the Sustainable Farming Programme in India, Daugherty said, “We want to make a global impact which is locally relevant through our sustainable farming programme. We know we can’t just come in with complete Western agricultural practices as they may not work in India.

“So, our programme goes in and does risk analysis and assessment of environmental, social and economic factors. Post that risk assessment, we decide on how to engage with the farmers so they can grow better quality produce with less input costs which are resilient to environmental and economic shocks.”

Educating farmers

Through the Sustainable Farming Programme, the company provides education on field agronomy, fertilisers, irrigation, plant protection techniques to enable farmers to adopt best practices depending on the crops and local conditions.

PepsiCo is also leveraging on its mini-tuber lab in Punjab to export potato plantlings (mini-tubers) to be able to grow quality chip-grade potatoes in some other countries. “We export potato mini-tubers to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Russia from our Punjab lab,” she added.

As part of the sustainable farming practices programmes, the company has developed 33 model farms to educate farmers.

“One of the initiatives we focus on is developing model or demonstration farms. These demonstration or model farms give farmers in the community an opportunity to experience and understand the best practices and advanced irrigation and crop management techniques,” she added.

Replying to a query on the issues of climate change and agriculture, Daugherty said, “We are engaging with farmers and other partners to look at ways to reduce carbon emission in agriculture. Precision agriculture techniques, farm management practices, inter-cropping and rotational cropping methods are some of the ways to address this issue.

“For the farmers, it needs to be of business value in terms of increasing soil health, improving yields, reducing input costs and betterring the quality of produce, and that will encourage them to adopt the best practices.”

CHG emissions

According to its ‘Performance with Purpose’ commitment, the company’s global goal is to reduce absolute GHG emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2030 across its value chain.

Source: The Hindu BusinessLine

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