The Asian Productivity Organization (APO), in partnership with the Agency for Agriculture Extension and Human Resources Development of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Directorate General of Training and Productivity Development of the Ministry of Manpower of Indonesia, initiated the Workshop on Sustainability Assessment of Agribusiness Enterprises. This is one of the answers to the worldwide agreement at the 1992 Earth Summit of achieving sustainable development.
Assessment on sustainability will help a particular company or producer in determining its sustainability performance in terms of environmental integrity, economic resilience, social well-being, and good governance with reference to a sustainability assessment system like the Sustainability Assessment in Food and Agriculture (SAFA) System of the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization, and through the use of sustainability assessment tools like the Response Inducing Sustainability Evaluation (RISE) and the Sustainability Monitoring and Assessment Routine (SMART) of the Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), as well as the common metrics and indicators on sustainability assessment designed by the Committee on Sustainable Assessment (COSA™).
Once companies or producers are assessed, the necessary measures to overcome the weaknesses and threats could be identified for continuous improvement and for a much sustained operation.
The objective of the undersigned for participating in the workshop is the improvement of skills in undertaking developmental actions for the agribusiness sector in the province through actual exposure on tools and methodologies on sustainability assessment and strategic action planning. It is also expected that familiarization to these approaches will be undertaken through workshops and exercises, as well as through sharing of experiences and practices of other Asian Countries to facilitate the learning.
There were twenty four (24) participants in the workshop who represented fifteen (15) Asian countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The undersigned was the sole participant from the Philippines and just one of the two (2) participants who belong to the Trade and Industry Department of their respective government. Eight (8) of the trainees were from the Agriculture Department, six (6) were from the Academe, and seven (7) were from the private sector.
SCOPE, CONTENT, METHODOLOGY
The 5-day activity was conducted through lectures, sites visits, presentation of country paper by participants, group workshops and group presentations.
For the lectures, the organizers invited experts on Sustainability Assessment to discuss related topics.
Dr. John Reid, a Senior Research Fellow of the Ngai Tahu Research Center, University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand – The Center was founded “to create intellectual capital and leadership able to lead and support tribal development”. Hence, he is very much concerned about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He focused his lecture on the seventeen (17) SDGs adopted by the United Nation (UN) on September 2015.
Mr. Moritz Michael Teriete, General Manager/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) in Ackerstrasse, Frick, Switzerland: – Using the Sustainability Monitoring and Assessment Routine (SMART) tool in sustainability assessment, SFS can “scientifically determine the sustainability of an enterprise and help find efficient solutions. They create the basis for a professional sustainability management and make the company fit for the future.
Mr. Teriete discussed the Models, Standards, and Approaches for Sustainability Assessment. He started by giving the rationale behind the campaign for the Sustainability Assessment in the Food and Agriculture Sector. He mentioned that there is really an increasing yield for different products but always at the expense of nature. He also emphasized the findings that motivated young farmer is now a scarce resource.
One of the important reasons why sustainability assessment is important was the result of the World Footprint analysis to determine if we are all fit on earth. According to the Global Footprint Network, humans are currently using an equivalent of 1.6 earths for the production of resources that we need, and at the same time to absorb our waste. If this trend continues, by 2030, we will need an equivalent of 2 earths to support our needs, and since we only have one Mother Earth, then this is a call for us to protect it.
Dr. Gayatri Ramnath, the Regional Research Coordinatorfor Asia of the Committee on Sustainable Assessment (COSA™) in Brisbane, Australia was the third speaker: The COSA™ is a “global consortium of institutionsfostering effective ways to measure and understand sustainability in the agri-food sector. COSA has developed a transparent meta-tool (common framework and indicators) to understand the costs and benefits of sustainability in a globally consistent and scientific manner”.
The organizer also invited two (2) speakers from Indonesia, one of which discussed a case which could be used as sample on Sustainability Assessment. The discussion was focussed on the Palm Oil Industry of Indonesia. The resource person, Ms.Emmy Hafild, is the Vice President of the Professional Certification Agency in Nusa Tenggara Barat.
The other speaker discussed how to assess and evaluate the performance of cooperatives, giving Indonesian cooperatives as samples. The resource person, Dr.Ir. Lukman Mohammad Baga, is a Lecturer from Bogor Agriculutral University in Bogor, Indonesia. He presented some of the important facts and information in his dissertation on the Agribusiness Cooperatives in Bogor.
Two (2) firms were visited, the Wiguna Makmur, Limited and the PT Sayuran Siap Saji in the Province of Bogor in Indonesia. Both companies are producers of various freshly cut and freshly produce vegetables like broccoli, potato, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, onion, spring onion, celery, carrot, green pepper, rice, mushroom, beans, corn, peas, cabbage, and more. They were assessed by the participants in terms of sustainability through actual interview of managers and employees during the visit.
The Wiguna Makmur is an ISO 22000 registered firm, and its customers include McDonald’s Indonesia, Burger King Indonesia, A & W Group of Restaurants, Wendy’s, and other local fast food chains and restaurants. To ensure sustainability of production and product quality, they are adopting both the Global Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP) and the Indonesian GAP, as well as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). They spent 20 milllion rupiah for this certification, and 50 million rupiah for other certification like Halal for its processed pickled cucumber. They are targeting in 2017 the certification from Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). The Operations Manager mentioned that Certification is being done to increase market access and once achieve, increase in volume of production to meet the demands of customers are being worked out through sustainability management. He also mentioned that in order to avoid resignation of employees, they observe government regulations on minimum wage, as well as provide health and work insurances.
The PT Sayuran Siap Saji on the other hand started its trial operation in 2011, and became fully operation in 2013. Usually, they seek for long term contracts with Malls and maintain regular transaction with McDonald’s and Burger King in Java Island, as well as with Hoka-Hoka Bento, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, A & W and Seven Eleven. To ensure product quality, they are adopting Food Safety system like the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). To meet the demands, they are adopting practices like 2:00 am distribution schedule to avoid traffic, buying 20% to 30% of their requirements from the local market during rainy season, hiring of extension workers who monitors the farmers daily to address problems, inviting experts from abroad for training sessions with farmers every six (6) months, and extending loan to farmers without interest in times of disaster like floods.
Part also of the activities was the Presentation of the Country Paper of each participant. As the representative from the Philippines, the undersigned prepared a more focused presentation so that questions regarding the matter could be answered thoroughly. The paper entitled, “The Agribusiness Industry in the Philippines (with focus on the Pineapple Industry of Camarines Norte)”, covers the production and processing of pineapple into food and non-food products in the province. The interventions provided to sustain the project, as well as the impacts of these interventions were discussed. Challenges and opportunities, including the recommendations on how to overcome the challenges were likewise presented.
On the last afternoon session, participants were divided into three (3) groups for the Group Exercise with the instruction to select one case study from the country presentations. After the selection of the case study, supply chain was mapped, boundaries were set using the decision tree approach, tools and indicators were likewise selected by choosing from the sub-theme indicators of each sustainability dimensions, assessments were undertaken and ratings were given to plot the sustainability polygon, and it ended with the analysis of the resulting spider web figure. The reporting of each group was undertaken the following morning.
The undersigned was included in Group 3, together with the representatives from Mongolia (1), China (1), Thailand (2), Vietnam (1) and Indonesia (2). The Case Study that was prepared on the Pineapple Industry in Camarines Norte was chosen unanimously by the group members to be the focused of the exercise. The resource persons also agreed but required the identification of just one (1) enterprise engaged in Pineapple Production and Processing since according to them, assessment could not be undertaken on an Industry-wide level, but on a firm level. The operation of the Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative suits the requirements set by the speakers, hence, it was chosen as the enterprise to be assessed. Reporting of the output was also done by the undersigned.
OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION
The objectives of the workshop of reviewing different models, standards, and approaches for assessing the sustainability of agribusiness enterprises and their applications based on the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of operations, as well as promoting the adoption of principles of sustainable development by farm and agribusiness enterprises, in particular SMEs in Asian countries were achieved. Participants to the workshop are one in saying that there is really a need to assess the sustainability of agribusiness enterprises through the use of various approaches presented, and the need as well to promote such learning to SMEs in their respective country.
The objective of formulating strategic action plans to promote the sustainability of agribusiness enterprises, will be realized after the assessments are undertaken. Since once the hotspots are identified, it is only then that the appropriate interventions could be identified.
The objective of contributing to achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development could be felt once the action plans are implemented and resulted to positive impacts.
The personal objective of the undersigned in participating to the workshop was also met since the tools and methodologies on sustainability assessment were discussed through lectures and were applied through a group exercise conducted. The resource persons are really experts on this field and have presented various cases where sustainability assessments were actually done. The resulting analysis of the sustainability polygon will be of great help in the formulation of effective action plan for a specific concern.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS
It is recommended to APO and APO member countries to conduct the same workshop to other member and non-member countries who failed to send participants in Bogor, Indonesia, and if possible lengthen the duration of the training to enable the conduct of a more thorough exercise. The effective way of allowing the participants to learn the approach is through experiential learning.
It is recommended to the Philippine NPO, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), together with the Philippine Government, specifically the Agriculture and Trade and Industry Departments to undertake the same training in the Philippines, with focus on just one assessment tool, either the Sustainability Monitoring and Assessment Routine (SMART) of the Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), or the common metrics and indicators on sustainability assessment designed by the Committee on Sustainable Assessment (COSA™). Although discussions and application through an exercise was conducted, only the basic essential elements are learned, which is not enough for the participants to actually do the same in the field. The Philippine Government could also fund the conduct of an actual sustainability assessment by either SFS or COSA to one specific enterprise or sector in the country with team members coming from the DA and DTI as understudy.
To disseminate the knowledge gained from the workshop, the undersigned is committed to do the following:
1. Present to my colleagues, and the Provincial Government of Camarines Norte, specifically the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist about the information, knowledge and inputs I received from the workshop;
2. Visit a relevant association or group and hold discussions with them on how they can promote Sustainability of Agribusiness Enterprise based on the findings of the workshop;
3. With the permission from my superiors, support APO/DAP projects by committing our organization as potential site visits for APO foreign or local participants during conduct of projects here in the Philippines;
4. With the permission from my superiors, make myself available to DAP/APO as resource person/consultant to some of its activities/projects/advocacies, and share my technical expertise/skills as part of the NPO pool of productivity experts.
CHRISTIE A. RIVERA
Supervising Trade Industry Development Specialist
DTI Camarines Norte
(To know more about the APO training, please contact Ms. Rivera at christie.rivera @ dti05.org)