Walmart Promotes Global Sustainable Agriculture Based on the Experience of Central America
Martes 15 de Noviembre de 2011 10:22
Global Summit takes place on the campus of INCAE in Costa Rica
San José, 8 November 2011. From November 8th to 10th, Walmart international executives will analyze in Costa Rica supply strategies to buy direct from fruit and vegetable growers on the basis of the model used by the operation in Central America.
In order to ensure that all Walmart operations fulfill the sustainable agriculture goals launched worldwide in 2010, actions and recommendations will also be proposed. By 2015, Walmart is committed to selling $1 billion in food sourced from 1 million small and medium sized farmers in emerging markets; provide training to 1 million farmers and farm workers of which half are expected to be women and increase the income of the emerging market small and medium farmers it sources from by 10 to 15%.
Participants at the First Direct Farm Summit held at INCAE Business School in Costa Rica include Walmart representatives from the company's agricultural supply, perishable goods and sustainability divisions in the 29 countries where the company has operations.
Walmart – through its Global Food and Sustainable Agriculture Platform and the support of its International Division President and CEO Doug McMillon – gave the Central American operations the assignment of leading the development of the direct farm business model based on the success of the Tierra Fértil Program and Central America's produce sourcing business.
To carry out the purposes of the Summit, Walmart created an alliance between its Central America Agricultural Development area with teams involved in markets in America, Europe, Asia and Africa, and the Sustainable Markets Intelligence Center (CIMS), an INCAE business promotion and development organization.
Attendees at this morning's inauguration ceremony included Costa Rica's Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Gloria Abraham; the Director of INCAE's Sustainable Markets Intelligence Center and the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS), Lawrence Pratt; as well as high-level Walmart representatives such as Alberto Ebrard, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Walmart Mexico and Central America; and Andrea Thomas, Senior Vice President Sustainability. Keynote speeches were delivered by David Browning, Senior Vice President of TechnoServe, and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Executive Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Economic development for farmers
This international summit is an opportunity for Walmart executives to analyze and reaffirm the company's commitment to increase the share of direct purchases from small to mid-sized, local fruit and vegetable farmers by 2015.
Goals include helping small and mid-sized farmers develop their business in a profitable and environmentally friendly manner by providing assessments on how to implement best practices for sustainable production allowing them to deliver top-quality fresh produce to Walmart customers worldwide.
The analysis of supply strategies will be based on the business model implemented by the Central America operation, which includes the Tierra Fértil program. This business model began over 30 years ago in the region and has benefitted more than 2,200 Central American farmers, as well as some 13,600 families and their communities, while simultaneously protecting and preserving natural resources.
For Alberto Ebrard, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Walmart Mexico and Central America, the Tierra Fértil program "has become a virtuous practice creating economic, social and environmental value for all participants: small farmers, rural communities, Walmart and its customers, who find a larger variety of competitively priced fruits and vegetables".
The support provided to farmers - which in addition to training also includes food production using sustainable technologies to deliver safe, fresh, quality products – is part of the company's efforts to fulfill its Sustainable Agriculture goals.
With regard to Walmart's efforts relating to Sustainable Agriculture, Costa Rica's Minister of Agriculture, Gloria Abraham expressed her satisfaction with the program benefitting Costa Rican farmers. "Our farmers are putting considerable effort into improving their farming practices in order to make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Some 500 of these farmers are Walmart suppliers and also comply with the corporation's stringent quality controls. We applaud this initiative as it is in agreement with state policy to promote the incursion of small farmers into end markets by means of strategic alliances such as the one Walmart is offering", the Minister pointed out.
On the other hand, Lawrence Pratt, Director of INCAE's Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS) commented "Walmart is making enormous progress with regard to strategies and programs that have the potential to transform the agricultural sector, particularly in relation to small and mid-sized farmers in developing counties. At CIMS and INCAE, we're really excited about being able to contribute towards this process together with Walmart".
Optimizing Direct Purchase
The strategic approach of this First Direct Farm Summit is to optimize the goals to buy direct from farmers and create a platform to make the most of this business model. Support will also be provided to the different teams in order to help them overcome any eventual obstacles to program implementation.
Summit goals include, among others:
• Build on the best practices of the Tierra Fértil program directed at small and mid-sized farmers.
• Share learnings and best practices in sustainable agriculture among Walmart markets.
• Conduct site visits to the farms to become familiarized with the agricultural processes.
• Establish indicators of achievement for goals defined for each market.
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