british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2009 - Brazil's sustainable agriculture programmes


The sustainable agriculture programme of Souza Cruz, our company in Brazil, focuses on three areas:

  • Contributing to the eradication of child labour;
  • Offering opportunities to maximise land use and crop yields; and
  • Supporting environmental improvements.

The programme’s initiatives have been developed through engagement with stakeholders in the tobacco leaf supply chain, including agricultural and labour federations, government extension services, the tobacco industry’s trade union and the Ministry of Agriculture. Some examples are outlined below.

Extended School Day programme

The Extended School Day programme has been in place since 2002 and is administered by Souza Cruz and validated by the Souza Cruz Institute, a charitable organisation set up by Souza Cruz to support education and human development. Rural schools receive investment to enable them to provide extra-curricular activities, keeping young people at school for longer each day. In 2009, BRL1.614 million (£0.5 million) was invested in 25 municipalities. This benefits more than 4,000 students each year.

Souza Cruz also contributes to eradicating child labour through its Outreach Computer Project. Rural information technology centres are set up, with donations of computers no longer needed by the company. The project is run in partnership with stakeholders including local government, labour unions, counselling agencies and schools. In 2009, 410 computers were donated.

Land use, crop yields and sustainable livelihoods

Souza Cruz established its SOL (Safety, Organisation and Cleanliness) rural programme in collaboration with SENAR, the national service for rural learning. Its objective is to make production processes safer, cleaner and more organised in order to increase the land’s value and provide a better quality of life for farmers. By 2009, over 6,000 farmers in southern Brazil had been trained under the programme.

In 2009, the Apprentice Minor programme was launched to provide young people with technical training in non-tobacco rural activities. Two pilot groups have been set up and a group of 600 young people aged over 16 is receiving training, mainly in rural administration and farm management.

The Plant Corn and Beans After Tobacco programme is a partnership with the state government in southern Brazil that works to improve the profitability of small farms. Tobacco producers are encouraged to plant grain crops after the tobacco harvest, thus improving the soil, making use of fertiliser from tobacco cultivation and increasing income. In 2009 more than 60,000 farmers benefited.

Supporting environmental improvements

Environmental support from Souza Cruz includes investment in programmes such as Reflorestar. This initiative encourages reafforestation by farmers who require wood fuel for curing tobacco. It provides them with seedlings and technical assistance to enable them to be self-sufficient in producing firewood.

A review of the programme by the NGOs Fauna & Flora International and the Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education identified opportunities for improvement; growers with insufficient space to cultivate trees were buying wood from native forests. In 2009, the Native Wood, Out of the Question! programme was created to raise farmers’ awareness of the need to use wood from sustainable sources and to provide financial and logistical support to encourage this.

Souza Cruz, in partnership with Sinditabaco, the tobacco industry’s trade union, and Afubra, the Brazilian tobacco growers’ organisation, organises the collection of agrochemical packaging across 649 municipalities. In every collection cycle, some 1.4 million items are picked up, including packaging used on crops other than tobacco.