Fostering sustainable farming practices to positively impact people and the planet
To meet the demand for high-quality, safe and ethical products, farmers – and the agri-food industry as a whole – are striving to shift to more sustainable agricultural practices. But what are the challenges they face, and how can they address them?
Farming has been a major driver of economic development over the last century, generating income and feeding growing populations at affordable prices. However, this has come at an environmental cost: soil depletion, water pollution, deforestation and reduced biodiversity. These are just some of the challenges created by current food production methods – and agriculture players must also ensure they meet food safety, animal welfare and ethical labor standards
Moving toward more sustainable farming
Currently, two major trends are encouraging stakeholders to commit to more sustainable agricultural practices and reduce their environmental impact:
- Governments, retailers, manufacturers and consumers are demanding high-quality, safe and ethical food – and value chain transparency.
Food Audit Development Manager
Consumers are increasingly questioning the products they eat, how they are produced and where they come from.
- Agricultural players are feeling the growing effects of the climate crisis. Farmers are facing less predictable seasons, new pests, weeds and diseases, and more extreme weather events that can threaten harvests and livelihoods.
Growing interest in regenerative agriculture
In response to the call for a more sustainable agri-food industry, farmers are adopting practices that protect and regenerate nature and provide safe, high-quality food while meeting social needs.
Many of these methods are age-old. They include crop rotation, mixed grazing, preservation of local varieties and species, natural pest control, rainwater collection, and use of crop waste or manure for fertilizer. This means that sustainable farming is often organic and GMO-free. However, it can also involve genetic engineering or innovations such as hydroponics and windowless “vertical farming.” The goal is to effectively leverage farming knowledge to use resources responsibly and improve yields at optimal costs.
Agri-tech, the use of specially developed technology for farming, offers even more solutions. Robotic machinery and digital farming – through remote sensors, drones, satellite imagery and artificial intelligence – can help farmers manage their land effectively. Long-term data collected on crops provides insight that enables them to monitor developments, preserve resources and boost efficiency.
Vice President Global Agricultural Service Line
This is the number one topic in our meetings with clients and partners. Interest in precision inspection services is huge and could be the new reality in five years.
A push for more transparency and accountability
Testing, inspection and certification play a key role in the transition toward a more sustainable agri-food industry. Through enhanced transparency, stakeholders throughout the value chain can prove that food meets reputable standards for responsible farming, sustainability and quality. This, in turn, builds consumer trust, and ultimately supports businesses’ resilience over the long term. And this is what lies at the heart of Bureau Veritas’ mission in the agri-food sector, through its BV Green Line.
Designed to help clients achieve their sustainability goals, our services and solutions enable farmers to comply with increasingly stringent regulations. Drawing on our global expertise, our activities span a wide range of fields from organic produce, fair trade and animal welfare to sustainable aquaculture and food waste management.
Crucially, we operate as independent third-party professionals. “We ensure that we maintain impartiality,” Laure-Anne says. “And when we verify clients’ current practices, we also provide feedback to help them continuously improve.” In this way, Bureau Veritas enables clients to assure consumers and all stakeholders – thanks to a guarantee of trust – that their products are safe, reliable, and sustainable, complying with stringent regulations.
Collaboration as the key to progress
Bureau Veritas also partners with other organizations to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices worldwide. This includes the global Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, which aims to empower food producers by setting common expectations and sharing best practices across the value chain. “We work with the SAI on its Farm Sustainability Assessment program,” Laure-Anne says. “We believe that joint efforts are essential to progress.”
Collaboration is key to move forward; as such, we put collaboration at the forefront in BV approach regarding food traceability. “We have developed V-Trace, a unique traceability solution which acts as an open network for all stakeholders in the agri-food value chain, bringing them together onto one knowledge platform.” Thilo says. Each member can track sustainability performance, trace products from farm to retail, and create and share reports for full transparency.
As well as offering industry-leading traceability capabilities, the solution allows for real-time data capture. This can then be used to improve operational intelligence, ensure product safety and mitigate fraud. Meanwhile, end-to-end supply chain visibility bolsters consumer trust by enabling players to demonstrate both sustainability and compliance with local and international regulations.
Supporting the transition with expertise and independence
Bureau Veritas helps decision makers manage the implementation of organizations’ sustainability roadmaps by leveraging our global footprint and unique capability to gather information through assessments.
Assessments are performed either in the field or through online questionnaires, and the information provided is independently verified by Bureau Veritas. This cost-effective process means that we can conduct global reviews of assets, sites and suppliers operating in complex value chains – and do it with ease.
We are well-positioned to support our agri-food clients in achieving their sustainability goals. And we are constantly improving our services to meet evolving needs, both of our clients and of society. We are proud to play a part in Shaping a World of Trust by ensuring responsible progress.