british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2011 - Sustainable agriculture

 
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Sustainability Report 2011

The world population is forecast to reach nine billion by 2050 and this, along with economic development leading to people having higher incomes, means twice as much food will need to be produced from the same amount of land. This is focusing the attention of a wide range of stakeholder groups involved in sustainable agriculture.

Sustainable agricultureSustainable agriculture means farming communities are successful in terms of their productivity but also protect the environment and provide social benefits like education. We believe that a framework for sustainable agriculture needs to include standards and regulations to support best practice; tools and technologies to improve productivity and reduce environmental impacts; and key services for communities, including healthcare and education.

To be successful, sustainable agriculture needs to look at the whole landscape, not just individual crops. A single tobacco farmer implementing good practices is neither sufficient nor effective if neighbouring farmers and community members are not also involved. That is why we want to work with others to develop an approach that includes cross-sector solutions and involves all a community’s stakeholders.

In 2011 and early 2012, we held two stakeholder dialogue sessions on sustainable agriculture. The first, in the UK, was held with the Food and Environment Research Agency. Along with UK policy makers, NGOs and other key influencers, we discussed the policy and regulation needed to effectively address the social, environmental and economic challenges of agriculture. The main insights from the session included:

  • There needs to be robust and appropriate regulation, supported by relevant agricultural policies, to ensure compliance both with global standards and to address specific issues in different countries;
     
  • Sustainable agriculture will require the adoption of more economic and ecologically efficient practices;
     
  • These practices will be implemented through appropriate tools and technologies that deliver sustainable outcomes; and
     
  • Improved communication and education throughout the agricultural supply chain is fundamental to translating strategies and policies into action and ensuring that tools and technology are adopted at the farm level.

The second dialogue session was held in Bangladesh, a key tobacco growing country. It was attended by stakeholders from the UK and across Asia. Participants were taken on a field visit to see our agronomy support services in action and an independently facilitated session was then held the following day to get feedback on our approach and discuss the challenges of sustainable agriculture in Southern Asia.

The main insights from the session were that a holistic ‘landscape’ approach involving different stakeholders in the process is needed and that further dialogue and collaboration will be required to raise awareness and create results. Participants all stressed the importance of educating and empowering farmers and how the sharing of best practice will be necessary to accelerate the process.

You can download copies of the dialogue reports from these sessions at www.bat.com/stakeholder Opens in new window.

ASSURANCE COMMENTS FROM ERNST & YOUNG LLP

We attended two British American Tobacco stakeholder dialogues on sustainable agriculture during the reporting year, bringing together participants from policy making, not-for-profit and other key influencing organisations. It was clear from the discussions that the cultivation of tobacco brings with it economic, social and environmental challenges. It will be important for British American Tobacco to demonstrate how its approach to sustainable agriculture can help mitigate those challenges and develop ways of measuring the value generated by its activities on local economies where it operates.

STAKEHOLDER VIEWPOINT

When we first saw the details of the Group’s approach to sustainable agriculture, we were surprised at just how much they were doing. I guess they don’t shout about it because they’ve been discouraged by the criticism the tobacco industry has received.

Dr Douglas Crawford-Brown, Chair of our Supply Chain Sustainability Stakeholder Panel

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