Global Initiative Helps Improve Food Security

The Good Growth Plan is making important progress on feeding a growing population while also protecting the environment.
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Corn is a crop that helps feed millions of people around the globe.
Too often, agriculture is overlooked in pivotal discussions of key topics ranging from conservation to food security to economic development. But Syngenta has undertaken an ambitious, unprecedented effort, The Good Growth Plan, to help make sure agriculture has a strong voice in the U.S. and around the world.

“One of The Good Growth Plan’s biggest successes is allowing us to influence conversations and highlight modern ag’s contributions to ecosystem services, hunger relief, climate-change mitigation and more,” says Jill Wheeler, head of sustainable productivity at Syngenta.

“No one had undertaken a project of this scope before, so we knew going into The Good Growth Plan that it would be a big challenge. It’s exciting to see successes begin to build.”

Jill Wheeler
Launched in September 2013, The Good Growth Plan is the company’s strategy for making progress on the goal of sustainably feeding 9 billion people by 2050. The Good Growth Plan outlines six measurable commitments to achieve by 2020 to help address global food security challenges. More than two years into The Good Growth Plan, more than 3,600 farmers and many organizations have been working with Syngenta to demonstrate and measure what’s possible for 21 crops, as well as the people and environments of 42 countries.

“No one had undertaken a project of this scope before, so we knew going into The Good Growth Plan that it would be a big challenge,” Wheeler says. “It’s exciting to see successes begin to build.”

One Planet, Six Commitments, Measurable Progress

The Good Growth Plan addresses the biggest challenges facing agriculture today, including the sustainability of farming and the prosperity of rural communities. So far, The Good Growth Plan is achieving the following:

  1. Make crops more efficient by increasing the productivity of the world’s major crops by 20 percent without using more land, water or inputs. “To test and measure what’s possible, we’ve created a network of reference farms across crops and regions in our key markets,” Wheeler says. “These farmers are working with our field experts to trial new solutions and raise productivity.” In 2015, the global network covered more than 1,000 reference farms and just under 2,600 benchmark farms. For 2015, the global average productivity increase on reference farms rose 2 percent versus the comparable benchmark farms.

  2. Help biodiversity flourish by enhancing biodiversity on more than 12 million acres of farmland globally. In the past 35 years, biodiversity has declined by more than a quarter due to population growth, habitat destruction and other factors. Two years into The Good Growth Plan, Syngenta has established biodiversity projects in more than 30 countries, impacting nearly 4 million acres. In the United States, Syngenta is preserving biodiversity through Operation Pollinator, which boosts the number of pollinating insects on commercial farms by creating habitats tailored to local conditions. Syngenta has partnered with R.D. Offutt Company, the largest potato grower in America, for instance, to plant underutilized acreage on the corners of the pivots with regional wildflower seeds. With nearly 1,200 acres, this project is creating environmentally diverse habitats and increasing the number of pollinators.

    The size of the R.D. Offutt Company project is extraordinary, says Caydee Savinelli, Ph.D., pollinator and IPM stewardship lead for Syngenta. “But even areas less than an acre can make a big difference for pollinators. Operation Pollinator is a good example of how agriculture and biodiversity can coexist.”

  3. Rescue more farmland by improving the fertility of nearly 25 million acres of farmland on the brink of degradation. In the past few years, Syngenta has run demonstration projects in many countries, often in partnership with local universities or nongovernmental organizations, to show growers what can be achieved on fragile land when sound practices are adopted to produce better yields. In 2015, these programs impacted nearly 4 million acres of land, bringing the two-year cumulative total to nearly 6 million acres.

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    “In Brazil, for example, we’ve partnered with The Nature Conservancy on the Greener Soybean Project [Soja Mais Verde], which helps growers comply with new government measures to restore forestland previously cleared for farming,” Wheeler says.

    Also, Syngenta worked with the United Nations to launch a Soil Leadership Academy in October 2015 to combat soil degradation. “We held a session to discuss what policies can help foster improved soil health,” Wheeler says.

  4. Help people stay safe by training 20 million farmworkers on safe product use, especially in developing countries. “When Syngenta comes out with a new crop protection product, we expand our safety training program,” says Wheeler, who adds that continuing education is also important. Certified applicators who treat seed with Avicta® seed treatment [corn, soybeans or cotton] in the U.S., for instance, receive a refresher course every three years. The reach of various safety training programs from Syngenta exceeded 10 million people in the first two years of The Good Growth Plan.

  5. Empower smallholders by reaching 20 million small producers and enabling them to increase productivity by 50 percent. These small stakeholders—who are located primarily in Asia, Africa and Latin America—often have 5 acres or fewer, Wheeler says. In 2015, Syngenta delivered products, know-how and training that reached 17.2 million smallholders, up from 15.3 million in 2014.

We’re All in This Together

Though The Good Growth Plan represents a significant investment for Syngenta, the company is committed to measuring and sharing its progress so the industry as a whole can benefit. “The Good Growth Plan will enhance our understanding of what makes crop production more efficient,” Wheeler says. “Each year, we'll report our progress on all six commitments and publish detailed information on what we’ve learned.”

Partnerships will continue to power the progress of The Good Growth Plan, Savinelli adds. “We’re all in this together. Working with each other helps everyone succeed.”