THE WORLD'S LARGEST FOOD AND BEVERAGE COMPANY, NESTLE, SOURCES RAW AGRICULTURAL MATERIALS DIRECTLY FROM NEARLY 160,000 PRODUCERS AND 600,000 FARMERS IN MORE THAN 50 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD. THE COMPANY RECOGNIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF ITS DIRECT RELATIONSHIPS WITH AGRICULTURAL SUPPLIERS AND ITS CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY STRATEGY FOCUSES ON SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PRACTICE IN THE AREAS OF NUTRITION, WATER AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT.
Operating through more than 20 formal, and many less formal public-private partnerships (PPPs), Nestle works with agricultural producers and governmental and non-governmental agencies (NGOs) to deliver innovative solutions to water management and sustainable farming practices in developing countries. As the following examples from rural China and Viet Nam demonstrate, Nestle has been active in investing in and cooperating with local authorities to share experiences and best practices from other regions in order to deliver real benefits to agricultural communities.
Biogas technology: Milk production in Shuangcheng, China
Nestle set up the Shuangcheng milk production facility in Heilongjiang Province, north-east China, in 1987. It is the largest facility of its kind in Asia and ranks fourth in the world in terms of annual dairy production in the Nestle Group.
Demand for milk products from the district grew quickly, but with increased productivity came problems. The University of Bern carried out a sustainability evaluation to assess the environmental impact of the increase in production. It highlighted the importance of adequately storing manure to prevent possible contamination of ground water. As common manure storage systems require high investments with no immediate financial benefits, farmers have little incentive to construct proper storage. Nestle, in support of an initiative by the local authorities, identified cheap, adequately sized biogas "digestors" as a possible solution. Nestle agronomists worked with the local government to train farmers in the correct handling and storage of farm manure and helped to install more than 1,500 small biogas plants.
These biogas generators not only help to prevent water pollution but also create enough energy to cover farmers' cooking and heating needs. Larger units are being tested, which may provide additional electricity for a number of community and household uses. The simple technology helps farmers reduce their wood and charcoal consumption, saving families money while reducing household carbon emissions, which contribute to air pollution and global warming. More importantly, biogas production provides farmers with an economic incentive to manage their manure supplies more effectively, reducing water contamination in the process. Since Nestle initiated the biogas project in 2003, education and outreach programmes supported by the company at 74 local demonstration farms have led to increased demand from farmers for the technology. …