Background
Pillar 1 - Environmental stewardship

Chain
responsibility

Selection of growers and breeders with a sustainability programme

We at HZPC cannot improve the sustainability of the potato chain on our own. We require growers who produce in a sustainable way for this. Transparency and making sustainable actions transparent to growers are therefore hugely significant.

Skylark Foundation supports growers that want to make their companies more sustainable. Soil improvement is an important component of this process. Sustainable use of soil is important to the grower and to HZPC. Yields and quality can only be improved through enhanced utilisation of the soil now and in the future.

In recent years, Veldleeuwerik Foundation has developed a method to improve the sustainability of farms. This starts with the soil, the most important capital asset of any farm. Farmers that participate in Veldleeuwerik work together on a future-proof company.

The experiences of participating farmers have been very positive. They have indicated that they learn a great deal from one another. In regional meetings farmer colleagues confront each other (under the supervision of an external adviser), inspire each other with ideas and challenge each other. The result is that they often take steps to implement actions much sooner compared to farmers who stand alone. Steps with a practical approach for a future-proof company.

Growers work together on their own sustainability plan based on 10 indicators.

Veldleeuwerik's 10 indicators:

Product value Water
Soil fertility Energy
Soil loss Biodiversity
Nutrients Human capital
Crop protection Local economy

Participation

HZPC is a member of Veldleeuwerik Foundation. We find it a good working method with which growers can work on sustainability. We try to encourage growers to participate. We do this by inspiring them with grower meetings and having fellow growers speak about their positive experiences.

There are now 30 HZPC growers participating in Veldleeuwerik. The count for 2014/15 is based on Veldleeuwerik groups which have been formed in the regions in the Netherlands where HZPC is active. The 2013/2014 count (53 growers) included growers who do not grow for HZPC or who no longer do so.

We have set an objective to expand by 25 growers every year. This appears to be difficult to achieve in practice. The number of growers who wish to work on sustainability specifically via the Veldleeuwerik methodology remains limited to a small group. However, many growers are taking initiatives to make their business operations more sustainable and we explain the philosophy and working method of individual growers in each edition of Ruggespraak (HZPC magazine for Dutch growers).

Download PDF ‘Growers working on practical solution for residue emission'

Making sustainability transparent to growers

For the reasons outlined above we will have to consider how sustainable activities by growers can be measured and compared. This is to make it transparent to growers how they are progressing with their efforts. We will also have to formulate our standpoint regarding the sustainable requirements we set for growers. We are currently working on the development of a baseline measurement for growers.  

Education

HZPC helps growers to optimise production and to reduce negative impact and wastage. Education is an important part of this. This is why we organise regular grower meetings about different topics. We have dealt specifically with soil and fertilisation as central topics at grower meetings, like in February 2014 for example. In 2015 the topic was 'Storage'. A great deal of loss (due to damp or diseases) can be prevented if growers bring drying and storage up to a higher and more sustainable level (less use of resources). Over 200 of the 500 Dutch growers attended the meetings. Following the meetings, small scale follow-up meetings were organised at the farmers' own premises with an expert in attendance.

Meetings for growers from both France and the UK were also organised, so that they could share their knowledge with Dutch growers. Key topics for these meetings included the optimisation of yield and reduction of disease in the seed potato crop.

Partnership with Polish Sustainable Farming Association

Natural resources such as water, fertile land and fossil fuels are under pressure in Poland. A non-commercial partnership, the Polish Sustainable Farming Association, was set up with partners within the food chain in Poland on the initiative of Farm Frites in 2014. Goal: to promote sustainable agriculture. Together, they have developed a programme in which cooperation plays a central role. HZPC Poland has been a partner since mid 2015.

This programme focuses on the first link in the food chain: the farmer. They share their knowledge and learn how to cooperate with other committed companies. This enables them to strengthen their position.  

The sustainability programme highlights the following components within sustainable agriculture:

By the end of 2015, 15 companies and around 50 growers were affiliated with the partnership. The group is growing fast. Farmers are invited to participate and they can do so free of charge.  The only requirement is commitment.  The initiative also provides the farmers with additional value: more knowledge, competence and cooperation ensure a better income. This is further reinforced by the possibilities for spreading risk.

Tomasz Jardzioch, Director HZPC Poland:
"It is all about a broader consciousness that things don't just renew themselves. We have to show good stewardship of the land. This programme fits in perfectly with HZPC's conviction:  feeding the world. My ambition is for all Polish growers to join over time. After all, we can only gain from this initiative. This is a fantastic project on Polish soil which we are extremely proud of".

Global G.A.P.

Global GAP is the standard for food production. Worldwide, more than 100,000 growers produce food in accordance with these food safety standards. The requirements were tightened up in 2012 and an increased responsibility for food safety is now borne by the grower.

Growers affiliated with HZPC must comply with the Global GAP standard. The certificate is based on food safety but various CSR criteria have also been included. The grower must comply with statutory rules with respect to crop protection for example.

In 2002, HZPC chose to take charge of the certification process. Global GAP offers the option to have the audits conducted by the marketing organisation. ECAS ensures that HZPC conducts these audits correctly. This certification method is used frequently outside of the Netherlands. The consequence of this working method is that all growers must comply with the standard before they can be certified together as a group.

Selecting transport companies with a sustainability programme

We want to make our transport more sustainable. This is only possible if our transporters have a clearly formulated sustainability policy. All transporters have been mapped out. We started our first talks on sustainability with our preferred partners back in 2013. These partners subsequently received an inventory referring to sustainability. The results will be evaluated in 2016. They will also determine what standard we wish to set for our preferred partners and other transporters.

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