UK supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose have invested $11 million in the Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF), a new system of financial incentives for farmers in Brazil who commit to deforestation- and conversion-free (DCF) soy cultivation.
Tesco says it will provide finance to 36 farms in the Cerrado region of Brazil, producing 75,000 tons of soy per year (for four years), resulting in the conservation of around 11,000 ha of native vegetation, 4,200 in excess of legal reserves.
The UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, describes the Cerrado, which lies mostly in Brazil, as the world’s most biodiverse savanna, and says it is under threat from high levels of deforestation, mostly driven by the expansion of soy cultivation. All farms in the trial stage will be located in the Matopiba, Goiás, and Mato Grosso regions, areas which Tesco says are at risk of deforestation and biodiversity loss.
We’ve also made a commitment that by 2025 we will only source soy from whole areas verified as deforestation-free.
After an initial 12-month trial phase, Tesco expects it will be scaled up to include hundreds of farmers across Brazil, helping to protect vast tracts of native Cerrado vegetation in Brazil conserving biodiversity, water quality, and carbon stocks.
An independent Environmental Committee will review and provide input into the environmental management of the facility, Tesco says.
The capital raised will be used to offer low-interest loans to farmers who comply with its eligibility criteria, and commit to zero deforestation of native vegetation, over and above their legal reserves, preventing negative climate impacts and loss of habitat. The operation was coordinated by Sustainable Investment Management (SIM) working with Opea, through Planeta Securitizadora, and Traive in Brazil.
Tesco Group CEO, Ken Murphy, said: “We’ve been driving industry action on tackling deforestation for a number of years, including playing a leading role in the formation of the UK Soy Manifesto last year.
“We’ve also made a commitment that by 2025 we will only source soy from whole areas verified as deforestation-free. To help us meet this goal it’s vital we provide practical, financial support to farmers in Brazil committed to the production of zero deforestation soy and the conservation of native vegetation.
“This initiative highlights the need for the whole food industry to come together and support the protection of critical ecosystems like the Cerrado. We urge more businesses and organisations to join us in providing funding for the RCF, to aid its roll-out in future years.”