|CYTASA, first Paraguayan producer to obtain RTRS certification|
New experiences in RTRS certification
Last June 8th, the first RTRS credits or certificates were traded through the RTRS Certificate Trading Platform. In separate transactions, 161,200 credits have been traded so far. Among the buyers are Lantmännen (Sweden, see news item in this newsletter), Unilever (Brazil), Vandemoortele (Belgium), and IDS (group of Dutch companies). Additionally, in the first days of September, the Dutch industry and trading representative organizations expressed, through a letter to their suppliers of (mainly) soy meal, their objectives to produce RTRS certified soy in the coming years. The final goal is that in 2015 all the soy imports used by the Netherlands -1,800,000 tons- are RTRS certified.
After three months of the beginning of the RTRS certification, we already have the first certified producers in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. In Brazil, Grupo Maggi, SLC Agrícola and, almost finished, three small/medium producers who are members of APDC (the Zero Tillage Association for the Cerrado region), in the Minas Gerais and Bahia states. In Argentina - as we shared with you in our previous newsletter- Vilucco was the first one to implement the certification scheme in its fields, then followed by Grupo Los Grobo and Aceitera General Deheaza (AGD). As the third country, Paraguay now joins in through Cytasa, the first one to obtain certification at national level.
Consequently, this article focuses on learning from the Paraguayan experience in the RTRS certification, as this is the 6th producer country worldwide. Therefore, we would like to share with you some details of Cytasa’s certification in Paraguay. Should you have any questions after reading this interview, please contact the RTRS secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will kindly address your concerns.
The RTRS secretariat contacted Victor Álvarez Arias –Manager at Cytasa-, who told us about the RTRS certification experience, certification processes in general, and the reason why sustainability plays a central role in the company objectives.
What does Cytasa do? How important is soy cultivation?
The Cytasa company cultivates grains: soy, oats, wheat, corn. We have also replanted 950 hectares with eucalyptus and they are now in full production. On the other hand, we have 350 hectares of pastures with 350 young cattle to fatten. Within this context, the importance of soy is paramount since 2,765 hectares are cultivated, which represents 70% of the company’s income. Moreover, we grow 100 per cent non-transgenic soy.
Cytasa’s native forest
Before this certification, we did not have any kind of certification in Latin America, although our parent company, Tragsa, did have certifications in Spain.
The main objectives are three:
Workers’ housing inside Cytasa property
In fact, we had already made progress in the RTRS requirements. We carried out an audit before in order to know where we were and from there we took the decisions to address the shortcomings.
We had problems in subjects related to the use of phytosanitaries, claims manual, labour and waste. We took training courses on phitosanitaries, hygiene, first aid, and safety and we also included debriefings with workers.
RSE. Training in Guarapay rural community (Paraguay)
We had already advanced a lot in the social aspect, so we only intensified it. The claims procedure was spread through circulars and the radio.
This year, the RTRS started to certify producers; you are one of the first ones to implement this. If you had to evaluate the certification process, what positive aspects would you mention and what recommendations would you make to the RTRS and other producers who may be interested in doing the same?
As a positive thing, I must highlight the satisfaction of being within a standard whose objective is respect for labour, social and environmental rights. Secondly, the certification helps the company to update its internal management, controls, files, and training. Finally, I can emphasize the relationship with other companies and organizations worldwide.
Entrance to the Agrochemical warehouse having safety signs
As a recommendation for producers who are interested in the RTRS certification, I can advise them to carry out a pre audit. It would also be important that the audit firm reduce costs because there may be small companies that cannot afford such costs.
What are your expectations about the market? Is there a market for certified soy and what do you think the opportunities are?
This is the aspect that requires more work; trading is the key point. I personally think that in the near future, markets will demand productions with some kind of certification and will inevitably follow the path of other productions.
There are already opportunities in present markets and our company will choose productions that are more respectful in terms of labour and the environment. In this harvest we will implement organic fertilization in half of the cultivated area to see what the results are. In this sense, we are not thinking of increasing the grown area: our objective is to have an exploitation that uses the three resources: agricultural, forest, and livestock.