Feeding With The Future In Mind: The Nestle Example
Agriculture is one thing that had a primary role in human evolution throughout history. Before agriculture became prevalent, human beings were hunters and gatherers and had to toil for survival.
Human beings began to utilize agriculture about 11,000 years ago when people started to drop the prevailing nomadic existence handed down by nature.
Improving skills in agriculture made it possible for mankind to transition from a nomadic lifestyle of hunting and food gathering to a lifestyle of building communities. This is often referred to as the Agricultural Revolution. This revolution changed human migration patterns. Although there were fears and challenges of scarcity, and an increase in human dependence on land, with civilizations denoted by growing large population centers, these fears were neutralised by improvements in technology and advancements in science, arts, trade and knowledge.
From this period, agriculture has and will continue to play a vital role in human survival. In today’s world, Agriculture has undergone multiple advancements, we have developed new technology to process food and other products more efficiently and sustainably. A notable example is the development of Genetically Modified crops. These crops have been engineered to improve or introduce new traits into different species of crops. Common traits that can be found in GM crops are resistance to insect damage, tolerance to herbicides, and resistance to viruses. Other benefits of GM foods include; longer shelf life, less expensive food, More nutritious food, etc. Other advancements include the invention of machinery to aid the mass production of crops and increase the efficiency of farming practices
With Industrial agriculture there is the capacity to mass produce with farming methods like the use of chemical fertilizers to induce soil yield, the use of pesticides to kill pests that destroy crops, the use of monoculture i.e. planting one crop on a large scale etc.
Agriculture is one of the most important ways through which people survive is also plagued by a plethora of challenges. The world population is projected to grow from nearly 7.5 billion people today to about 10 billion people in 2050. So capacity and demand for food is projected to be an issue.
Nonetheless,there are three central challenges facing agriculture globally, namely: Feeding an increasing population, protecting the environment and giving farmers a livelihood.
The tricky issue here is that solving one problem can lead to another. For instance, policies that are meant to induce agric sustainability could lead to costlier production and thus higher prices for consumers. Therefore, the goal of solving this problem would be to strike a balance such that one problem does not lead to another.
Nonetheless, Agriculture is known to have noteworthy pressure on the environment. Thus, over the last century, it was pertinent to introduce agricultural practices that have been designed to protect the earth and expand the use of our natural resources. This denotes the importance of Sustainable Agriculture, which is a key concept that is shaping agricultural practices today.
Agricultural sustainability entails meeting today’s society’s agricultural needs without jettisoning future generations’ needs. Therefore, farming systems must be capable of maintaining utility and productivity in society indefinitely.
These farming systems must be capable of conserving resources, being environmentally and commercially effective, and improving the quality of life for farmers and the general public.
Interestingly, Nestlé Plc. has been aggressively championing many of these challenges concerning agricultural sustainability. Nestlé has made it known that they are interested in catalyzing the transition to a regenerative food system to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Nonetheless, Recently, Nestlé has promised to invest $1.3 million to implement regenerative agriculture across its supply chain globally. Paul Bulcke, Chairman Board of Directors, Nestlé recently said. “We know that regenerative agriculture plays a critical role in improving soil health, restoring water cycles, and increasing biodiversity for the long term, these outcomes form the foundation of sustainable food production and, crucially, also contribute to achieving our ambitious climate targets.”
Regenerative agriculture aims to curtail the chemical, biological and physical disruption of the soil with practices such as: Refraining from tilling the soil, mixed crop rotation, animal integration, cover cropping etc. Nestlé distributed more than 600,000 shade trees to support regenerative agricultural practices that preserve carbon in the soil and protect cocoa trees. They also provided 7000 crop seedlings to cocoa farmers to encourage farm crop diversification.
For Central and West Africa, Nestlé’s focus has been in the areas of supply of local agricultural materials, and create inclusive livelihoods for smallholder farmers (SHFs), women and youth while protecting environmental resources.
Since 2015, the mega manufacturing firm has been able to impact more than 56,000 beneficiaries under our Grains Plan in Nigeria and Ghana through mentorship, training on agricultural practices, and provision of inputs
The FMCG giant has consistently worked with its food system partners, including the company’s network of more than 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers, to advance regenerative farming practices at the heart of the food system and also initiate new programs to help address the social and economic challenges of the transition.
Furthermore, Nestlé has created several training platforms to train youths who are interested in farming about regenerative agriculture practices and improving the flexibility of farmlands to climate change. Similarly, Nestle Nigeria Plc has sourced all of the grains for its wholesome family cereal, Golden Morn, from local farmers who provide homegrown maize and soya beans. They observed that purchasing grains locally not only supports its local sourcing aim but also has a positive effect on the local economy by giving farmers and other participants throughout the value chain a stable source of income.
Concerning the issue of feeding an increasing population, Nestlé has been involved in multiple investments aimed at expanding its production capacity worldwide. In 2020, $31 million was allocated to Nestlé’s coffee operations in Brazil, the world’s largest producer and exporter of the product. In the same year, they announced that it would expand its manufacturing capacity in China with an investment of $103 million. Nestlé intends to help modernize and restructure China’s food business with these investments. The company also plans to use the investment to considerably increase the manufacturing capacity of the Tianjin region pet food plant. Thus, it is evident that Nestlé continues to expand its capacity worldwide to meet the growing food demand globally.
Nevertheless, Agriculture being an integral key player in human survival, will continue to need proper attention. As Nestlé continues to seek better ways to improve the entire Food system, countries and large organisations worldwide should feel challenged to pick themselves up and collaborate with smaller food industries and farmers to ensure that Agriculture and its products are sustainable, affordable, and of the highest quality