Located in Rio Verde-GO, Grupo Wegener owns 1,729 hectares of soy certified by RTRS (Round Table on Responsible Soy Association). This amounts to 6,679.80 tons of soy produced in the 2016/2017 harvest season. According to Heidi Wegener, head of socio-environmental management for the group, sustainable production has always been an objective for the group, one which has evolved alongside new production techniques and the adoption of new technologies.
“Our investment in certification is meant to ensure a more conscientious process when producing soy, by using good agricultural practices and minimizing our impact on the environment, all while enabling a return on investment high enough to justify the cost of on-site improvements. Certification also has a social side to it, as it improves the work carried done employees, as well as their training,” she explained.
According to Heidi, their initial contact with RTRS was through Aliança da Terra, an institution that works with rural producers to provide innovative solutions based on good production practices. By compiling a detailed socio-environmental diagnosis, Aliança da Terra provided the necessary support for the group to comply with the guidelines required for certification.
“Certification encourages us to make a number of improvements to the property, such as rearranging and organizing parts and tools, building new housing and machine sheds, and renovating workshops and other buildings. This has improved the workflow and comfort of employees,” she stated.
About the environment, certification has provided them with guidelines on how to use pesticides responsibly and has raised awareness about legal reserves, in an effort to protect them and recover whatever may be necessary. There is also concern for soil maintenance and preservation, and road improvements have also been made to reduce erosion by rainwater.
The areas around the property saw several improvements; the employees benefitted as well, through investments in professional training courses. These courses focused on workplace safety, first aid, machine operation and maintenance, financial management, healthcare and education. This training is offered to employees and family members from neighboring properties.
“I believe certification not only guarantees a sustainable soy production, it also adds value to our exports. European countries are quite demanding about the quality of imported grains; their concern for responsible production drive us to improve our products. We wish to remain certified in the future and will expand certification to other areas cultivated by the group. We will also encourage more properties to seek certification,” she stated.
According to the Cid Sanches, External Consultant for RTRS, Grupo Wegener is an example of how certification can provide benefits that encompass the entire soybean production process. “The group was certified in 2015 and, in a short time, has was able to achieve extremely positive results, selling all of its certified production to international customers and, thus, adding value to soybean production. RTRS is a global platform and our goal is to make more and more producers aware of our mission – to ensure that soy production is environmentally correct, socially just and economically viable,” said Sanches.