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I want sustainability as mankind a way of life vows Leontino Balbo

I want sustainability as mankind a way of life vows Leontino Balbo

May 14
21:46 2018

By Faren Sakupwanya and Jessie Zimba

Leontino Balbo Head of Brazilian Sugar company

The head of Native, a sustainable Brazilian sugar cane company, shares his thoughts on the challenges facing the food industry in the light of the Rio +20 Earth Summit.
Leontino Balbo Jr. is one of the main directors of the Balbo group and at the head of Native, a Brazilian sugar cane company that has been taking innovative action to achieve complete sustainability for nearly thirty years. The Rio +20 Earth Summit made now an ideal time for him to share with us his views on the achievements and future goals of sustainable food production in emerging countries.
The story of Native is long and unique. We are talking about almost 30 years of research, and 25 years of project implementation. In 1984, when I joined my family’s business, the Balbo group, as a graduate in agronomy, my first impressions were not very positive. I had particular concerns about sugar cane burnings: the fact that the waste products generated during sugar production were not re-used seemed a shame to me. In addition,manually cutting burned cane was a very hard job for workers. So I proposed to the board that we take our activities to a higher level of sustainability. My first goals were to decrease our dependency on the multinational company supplying agrochemicals and fertilizers, and to implement a cleaner production system. This called for several key changes, in terms of the environment and of social impact (see the focus o n the Green Cane Project at the end of the article). And that is how we became organic, as a result of pursuing a conviction.

In 1997, for the first time, we produced 1,600 tons of certified organic sugar. And production has been consistently growing by 25% per year since then. In 2012, we expect to sell over 90,000 tons of organic products in more than fifty countries, on five continents, to major companies that want to incorporate the sustainable value of our products into their production chains.
“We produced a wide range of scientific studies to select and measure what we call “Indicators of Sustainability”. We developed scientific partnerships with the most highly-regarded Brazilian universities and research centres, to lead extremely comprehensive surveys, from soil fertility to water, to air quality and to biodiversity,”said Balbo.
The use of certification to pass the environmental and social value of our products on to the rest of the food industry has worked perfectly for us, with more than 120 food businesses worldwide.

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