Q&A with Marcio Nappo

Manager, socio-environmental responsibility, ADM South America

What is driving your work to help establish a more sustainable supply chain for the crops ADM sources in Brazil? 
The agricultural marketplace has experienced a significant change in the last 10 years. Not only is the market demanding higher quality standards, but there now are also several commodities certification schemes, supplier sourcing guidelines and various forms of legislation in place to help encourage sustainable production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The only way to address all of these trends at same time and keep ADM competitive is to develop sustainable supply chains. In the case of Brazil, we are focusing on the sustainable production of soybeans and, more recently, palm oil.

How is ADM working both independently and in partnership with multi-stakeholder organizations to establish a sustainable supply chain for soybeans? 

In terms of multi-stakeholder partnerships, we are actively involved in the Round Table on Responsible Soy Association. In addition, some of the most innovative efforts are the on-the-ground projects we have been running in partnership with NGOs in South America.  These projects — particularly our Doing It Right program — are making a significant impact in many ways, even though these are smaller-scale initiatives. 

Which ADM initiatives are having the most positive impact?

The Doing it Right program, carried out in partnership with the Brazilian NGO Aliança da Terra, is the most important effort we’ve created to help develop a sustainable soy supply chain in Brazil.  What’s innovative is that it involves direct outreach to producers.  By providing growers with effective tools to improve their yields in sustainable ways, the program aims to help reduce the environmental impact of their activities and ensure good working conditions for farm employees.

And now you’re effectively broadening the Doing It Right effort to help restore degraded riverside vegetation in key growing regions.

That’s right.  One of the major challenges associated with improving the sustainability status of farms in Brazil is helping growers recover part of the native vegetation they must have in place to be in compliance with Brazilian law. The recovery of the farm's riverside vegetation, known as PPA, or Permanent Preservation Area, can be an important first step in this process. As a consequence, we have started to develop a PPA Recovery project to run in parallel with the Doing it Right Program. We are developing strategic partnerships with other players in Brazil’s soy value chain, and beginning in December 2011, we plan to begin a pilot project for recovery of 100 hectares of degraded riverside areas in the state of Mato Grosso.

I think it’s important to recognize that these ADM projects and programs all have something very important in common: They all establish a stronger relationship with our suppliers in which the origin of the products and the conditions of production are fundamental. We are focused very closely on the farmers and the farms to help them be more competitive and produce a higher-quality product sustainably. And we work side-by-side with them to achieve the objectives.

During 2011, ADM became the first company operating in South America to achieve International Sustainability and Carbon Certification for soybeans. How were we able to achieve that milestone?

The third phase of our Doing it Right Program began in the state of Bahia in January 2011. One of our goals at that time was to work closely with 13 farms comprising about 56,000 hectares, or 138,000 acres, of soy production area to help them adopt sustainable social and agronomic practices that would enable them to become ISCC suppliers. We had no more than six months to establish a strategy to prepare the producers.  Normally, this process would take at least a year.  So I’m proud that we were able to do it in six months.

To achieve this certification, growers are subject to a number of highly detailed audits; ISCC standards are quite strict. With this certification, we now are able to provide sustainable soy to the European market, particularly to ADM crushing facilities in Germany, which are subject to the European Union’s new Renewable Energy Directive requirements.

Looking ahead, we are planning to roll out the ISCC certification process to the state of Mato Grosso in order to develop an even broader base of new sustainable soy suppliers.

How do you see your work contributing to the development of sustainable agriculture in South America?

The question we all have to ask ourselves is, “How can the world double agricultural productivity by 2050 in a sustainable way?” The way we steward the land, the way we manage the soil and control carbon emissions — all of these issues will determine whether agriculture can reach its full potential in the 21st century and beyond. The world is watching to see how Brazil manages its agriculture, and we want to show that it’s possible to “do it right.”

Having served as a senior economist with ABIOVE, the Brazilian vegetable-oil industry trade group, and as environmental and sustainability advisor to the President of UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association, Marcio Nappo brought a wealth of expertise in agricultural economics, sustainability and environmental issues to ADM when he joined the company in 2009. Today, he oversees ADM’s efforts to enhance the integrity of its South American supply chains. In addition to his master’s degree, Nappo holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of São Paulo’s School of Economics.

Nappo: “Our projects and programs have something very important in common—they all establish a new relationship with our suppliers in which the origin of the products and the conditions of production are fundamental. We are focusing on the farmers and the farms.”

Bio: Marcio Nappo
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