© Michel Gunther / WWF-Canon
Currently, there are opportunities for farmers in Songyuan to increase yields, reduce environmental impacts, and improve their livelihoods through increased revenues from better and more sustainable practices. The Coca-Cola Company and Cargill are working with WWF and demonstration farmers in Songyuan to highlight sustainable agricultural practices from planting, tilling and harvesting, through to storage and selling. Through farmer education and training at these demonstration farms, as well as additional farmer outreach, The Coca-Cola Company, Cargill and WWF will reach 25,000 farmers by the end of 2015.
Specific project goals include:
- improving yields by 20 percent;
- reducing waste (harvest, post-harvest) by 10-15 percent;
- conserving water;
- reducing the overall environmental impact (e.g., carbon footprint reductions from fertilizer optimization) of farming in Songyuan; and
- reducing agricultural expansion into environmentally sensitive wetland areas.
Cargill has established 20 demonstration farms with corn producers in Baidu Village in Songyuan, Jilin Province. These 20 famers have a field size of 1.5 to 4 hectares. Each demo plot is 1 ha in size, leaving the remainder of the producers’ fields to be managed as they normally have been. Inputs have been purchased and provided to the farmers by Cargill, and Cargill has obtained an agronomist who will conduct trainings on the appropriate use of the inputs. Training themes will vary by year to build capacity over time. The current focus is on improved seeds, optimization of fertilizer application, timing, and method, as well as planting practices such as seeding and row spacing.
WWF and The Coca-Cola Company work closely with Cargill to further develop the trainings to include an element that assists the producers in making the connection between cost savings and minimizing impact on the environment. WWF has also secured two full time staff based in the WWF Northeast China office to manage this relationship, give trainings or recruit appropriate experts, as well as identify and implement ways to expand the project. WWF also focuses on engaging with municipal and provincial governments to link this small project to other ongoing and related projects in Baidu Village and Songyuan. By Year 3, WWF hopes to begin replicating the pilot with corn producers immediately surrounding wetland areas (critical migration stopover for endangered crane species) and influence policy change to protect this important place as well as ensure China’s continued food security.