Round Table on Responsible Soy Association

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First South American producers to certify RTRS Print E-mail

August, 2011
Tucumán, Argentina

 

Interview with Viluco, first Argentine producer to certify RTRS


After going through a long and intensive process among soy value chain stakeholders (supply, demand, and civil society), the on consensus based standard for responsible soy production has become a certification system this year, first implemented and audited in June this year. Grupo A. Maggi (Brazil), one of the producers that at the beginning made up the forum for dialogue which later in 2006 gave rise to the association we know as RTRS, obtained the RTRS certification for a portion of its fields. The second one to certify its production – first one in Argentina – is Argentine company Viluco. Between 2011 and 2012 the RTRS will be sharing the first experiences of this and other producers from different countries such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, United States, China and India.

 

This time we will tell you about the experience of Viluco S.A., a company that has been contributing to the creation of the different RTRS tools for two years, providing their views in the multiple processes prior to the existence of the certification scheme, among which we can mention the creation of the RTRS standard, the Argentine National Interpretation of the generic standard, and the field tests of the standard performance.

 

The Viluco team 

 

Viluco S.A. is an Argentine agricultural company based on no-till practice in 100 per cent of their farms. Although soy is the main crop, corn and wheat also play an important role for their work system sustainability.

 

The company currently has 55,000 hectares, both own and rented, distributed in the provinces of Tucumán, Santiago del Estero, Catamarca and Salta.

 

Some weeks after having obtained certification, Viluco sold the first 6,000 credits, equivalent to 6,000 tons of certified soy, through the RTRS Certificate Trading Platform.

 

In an interview with the RTRS, Valeria Mattiacci, Engineer and a Quality Analyst at Grupo Lucci, talks about Viluco’s experience with the RTRS certification, the certification processes in general and their objective, and the central role that sustainability plays among the company goals.

 

Before the RTRS certification, what other certification schemes did you implement? What are the major elements of those previous processes?

 

This certification is the first one achieved by the agricultural sector. Other certification schemes such as Globalgap and AC (Agricultura Certificada) were assessed, but we finally implemented RTRS because it is the most complete scheme since its five principles are based on:


  • Legal compliance and good business practices
  • Responsible labour conditions
  • Responsible community relations
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Good agricultural practices

 

Other companies belonging to the holding Viluco is part of have implemented ISO 9001, ISO 14001, HACCP, BRC and  GlobalGAP.

 

What are the main reasons for obtaining the RTRS certification?

 

Opening up of new markets, international recognition, resource use efficiency, and the  identification of our strengths and weaknesses, apart from continuous process improvement. Besides, being able to demonstrate objectively that we work in a responsible way, caring for the environment.

 

What activities did you carry out to prepare the RTRS certification?

 

All the staff received both internal and external training on the RTRS, and activities related to spraying, fertilization, agrochemical use, first aid, and employee rights were performed. Besides, meetings with other producers were held to make them know about the RTRS. As regards infrastructure, warehouses and sheds were modified in order to comply with all the rules. The quality department carried out audits to follow up contractors more thoroughly.


Viluco workers trained in use of agrochemicals

 

The RTRS began to certify producers this year; Viluco was the first one in Argentina. If you had to evaluate the certification process, what positive aspects would you highlight and what recommendations would you make to the RTRS and to other producers that may be interested in doing the same?

 

The whole process was positive since Viluco S.A. has always worked in the same way. Perhaps what we needed was a better organization when providing data and the certification helped us a lot on this point.  Moreover, thanks to this process, we have dealt with other entities that are part of the different communities where our farms are located. Rural schools have always been emphasized through our Foundation (Fundación Vicente Lucci)and thanks to certification we started to make contact with hospitals, the fire brigade, etc. The most complex thing was the cultural change to reach the RTRS certification, as it is difficult to obtain the stakeholders’ commitment and the requirements of this protocol demand both internal and external commitment (suppliers, contractor, and  communities).

 

What are your market prospects? Is there a market for certified soy and what do you think are its opportunities?

 

I think there are big opportunities for selling certified soy/credits. In our case, since we obtained the certification we have received proposals to sell our certificates, perhaps not at a high price, but the proposals exist. This has only just begun and I think that there will be an increasing demand for certified soy.


Certified soy silo

 

What are your expectations for the future regarding the RTRS?

 

Viluco S.A has opened this road and expectations are high as regards the RTRS since we are thinking of including all our own fields next year and our goal for 2013 is to include the rented fields as well; we also continue promoting implementation by our soy suppliers.

 

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