Incentive for sustainability

SWEET DEAL: Wilmar Sugar is offering a cash back incentive for sustainably grown sugar.
SWEET DEAL: Wilmar Sugar is offering a cash back incentive for sustainably grown sugar. Peter Carruthers

FOR the second time in the space of a week I find myself congratulating Wilmar Sugar on its recent actions.

Last week I praised the miller for its capacity to continue the crushing with few disruptions and breakdowns in a year when it is even more important than ever to get the crop off, in addition to the cane left in the ground last season. This week I congratulate the miller on incentivising sustainably grown sugar.

Canegrowers Mackay is appreciative of Wilmar Sugar's commitment to environmental best practice, and its move to provide financial incentive to growers to obtain accreditation in Smartcane BMP. This incentive payment has been embedded in the recently signed Cane Supply Agreement. This agreement was the focus of lengthy discussions between growers, the state and federal governments and Wilmar Sugar leading into the 2017 harvest. Wilmar Sugar will make a one-off payment of 15 cents a tonne of cane to growers individually when they obtain their Smartcane BMP accreditation for all three core modules.

These are:

Soil Health and Nutrient Management

Irrigation and Drainage Management, and

Weed, Pest and Disease Management.

In addition, Wilmar Sugar will make a one-off payment of 10 cents a tonne if growers also obtain Bonsucro certification. Bonsucro is a globally acknowledged environmental standard.

To do this, growers need to complete the first three modules in Smartcane BMP, plus undertake the required additional modules (for Bonsucro).

This is good news for growers who have already obtained this standard, and for those in the program and well on their way to achieving accreditation. Wilmar Sugar will make retrospective payments to growers who have already achieved BMP or Bonsucro accreditation. This incentive equates to a total one-off payment of 25 cents a tonne (for BMP and Bonsucro combined) of cane delivered to Wilmar's mills once accreditation has been achieved. The payment is capped at 25,000 tonnes per ABN. The Smartcane BMP incentive is only available in 2017 and 2018 with eligibility ceasing with finalisation of the 2018 cane payments. The Bonsucro payment is available in 2017, 2018 and 2019 with eligibility ceasing with the finalisation of the 2019 cane payments. Growers not already in the program would do well to sign on and start tracking towards accreditation before this timeframe ends.

These financial incentives are a credit to Wilmar Sugar, which is demonstrating its support for the industry-run Smartcane BMP program, as well as supporting and encouraging its suppliers to achieve Bonsucro certification. Achieving this will increase access to global markets, which are increasingly demanding sustainably sourced products.

This agreement is an example of the collaboration Canegrowers has been seeking from millers - the ability to work together for the greater good of all in the industry. My advice to growers therefore remains the same. If they are not already working towards Smartcane BMP accreditation, now is the time to act as there is even further incentive with our governments willing to achieve these important environmental standards for them.

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