Mars, The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) have collaborated to invest $4 million in sustainable farming research and development in Indonesia and the Philippines. The project, Sustainable Farming in Tropical Asian Landscapes (SFITAL), will span over five years and will explore environmentally sustainable ways to link small-scale producers to global supply chains. With a focus on two raw materials – cocoa and palm oil – it aims to explore how agricultural systems can be managed sustainably in entire landscapes in a way that benefits the environment and enables producers to thrive. SFITAL will focus on palm oil in Indonesia and cocoa in Indonesia and the Philippines. Both raw materials are major sources of livelihoods of those living in rural communities, yet they are cultivated in areas facing environmental threats. According to the collaborators, small-scale producers in tropical regions face numerous challenges such as climate change and poverty, slow or unresponsive governance systems and limited access to financing mechanisms. In an effort to tackle these complex challenges, SFITAL says it will bring together multiple sectors to co-design and implement with small-scale producers new ways of operating. “IFAD is committed to supporting small-scale producers to improve the sustainability and profitability of their farms through better practices, and this grant does that,” said Fabrizio Bresciani, IFAD’s regional economist, Asia and the Pacific. He added: “Together with ICRAF and Mars, we will promote better farm management, lower transactional costs and higher production standards. We will establish innovative traceability systems so small-scale producers can participate in highly profitable and sustainable cocoa and palm-oil value chains.” The partnership intends to expand the global scale of sustainable value chains of the two raw materials through involving local governments, and will generate and promote learning of project management. “Mars has a responsibility to the millions of small-scale producers in our value chains,” said Barry Parkin, chief procurement and sustainability officer.
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