Bonsucro Seeks to Push Thailand’s Sugar Industry towards Sustainability

“The Thai sugarcane industry, as I mentioned, is very important already, globally. I am seeing more and more passion from the industry towards sustainability. It is supported by the Thai government, Ministry of Industry, and by Thailand’s miller associations and corporations.

A lot of mills have put more and more effort in sustainability to get Bonsucro certification in order to improve their productivity, and to enhance their competitiveness” commented Mr. Lyu.

Gaining trust from consumers all over the world needs certification. Sugar trading is not the exception. Bonsucro, a platform for guaranteeing the product’s support of sustainable production, has seen that Thailand’s abundant sugarcane industry, despite its well-known quality, is sometimes lacking clients’ confidence. Mr. Rick Lyu, the platform’s regional director for Asia Pacific, is going to reveal how Bonsucro can help to push the country’s industry forward, making it more acceptable and sustainable for the next generation.

Mr. Lyu said that the platform emerged back in 2009, originally called the Better Sugarcane Inititiative, by a group of like-minded organizations, who had seen that the industry must be better and that creating a global, objective performance standard for everything which matters about producing sugarcane and its primary derived products, was needed.

Thailand’s Leading Roles Lure Big Events

Bonsucro’s move in Thailand has been more obvious this year. In the middle of March, the country hosted the platform’s big annual event, Bonsucro Global Week.

Mr. Lyu, a Singaporean national, explained the decision to host the event in Thailand came from the the fact the country is one of the leading sugarcane producers. Besides, the platform’s members are active there, and Thailand is an excellent destination to organize the event.

“It is one of the top 10 (sugar) cane producing nations. And Thailand exports sugar to a large number of countries. Thailand is the number one exporter in Asia Pacific from the volume prospective, and number two in the world.” said Mr. Lyu.

Before the event, Bonsucro has tried to innovate tools to help to push the country’s industry forward, such as launching Thai Accelerator Plan in March 2018, which PepsiCo is one of the main supporters. PepsiCo and Nestlé are working in partnership to reach their sustainability and responsible sourcing goals for cane sugar in Thailand.

The plan arose directly from an industry summit held by Bonsucro in

Thailand to discuss the key challenges facing the sector and agree the most effective strategy to address these issues. Leading mill groups such as Mitr Phol, TRR, TRR (Saraburi), Khon Kaen, KI Sugar, KTIS, Eastern Sugar and Cane, Kaset Phol Sugar, and Khonburi Sugar joined the summit, together with traders and a broad range of Bonsucro partners.

50% of Thai Mills Expected to Join the Platform by 2020

However, the many mills in the country are still out of the member list, meaning that there are a number of mills which haven’t yet adopted its standards for sugarcane production.

Despite this fact, Mr. Lyu said that the platform aims to reach a total of 80,000 farmers and 20 mills representing 50% of Thailand’s milled sugar by 2020 and increase the quantity of certified sugar to 3 million tons in Thailand.

Other than that, Bonsucro has shown its role in exchanging knowledge and the best practices in scaling up the production of Bonsucro-certified sugarcane to mills and developing and implementing impacts projects to help address farmers’ challenges.

Smaller Producers Will Never Be Left Behind

However, this story might not be the case for smallholder farmers in the country, given the distinction of their production compared to bigger farms. Bonsucro acknowledged that it is more difficult to apply parts of its Production Standard to them.

In order to make sure that the platform’s vision is truly achievable and inclusive. Bonsucro also launched a version of the standard entitled, Production Standard for Smallholder Farmers.

Mr. Lyu said that this is very important to Thailand, because its sugarcane sector is dominated by smaller producers. 83% of growers are from the group who produces 1,000-2,000 million tons of the country’s cane supply. Unfortunately, they are still struggling with monitoring data and record keeping.

“The Thai sugarcane industry, as I mentioned, is very important already, globally. I am seeing more and more passion from the industry towards sustainability. It is supported by the Thai government, Ministry of Industry, and by Thailand’s miller associations

and corporations. A lot of mills have put more and more effort in sustainability to get Bonsucro certification in order to improve their productivity, and to enhance their competitiveness” commented Mr. Lyu.

On the top of that, sustainability in terms of legal perspective is considered important. Mr. Lyu pointed that the Bonsucro’s Production Standard has principles, criteria, and indicators which deal directly with human rights and labor standard laws.

More Mills Are Looking into Sustainability

Meanwhile, the platform aims to help facilitate clear communication around sustainability performance expectation from buyers to mills, seeking funding from financial institutions and partnering with a range of professionals to help mills and farmers gain the support they need to adopt sustainable practices.

Sustainability is what Mr. Lyu sees as a trend that Thai mills are catching up with in order to improve their production