HUL partners with Government of Maharashtra to source tomatoes sustainably
HUL first public-private partnership to source agricultural raw materials.
The partnership is for one year with effect from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 cultivating two seasons of crops on an area of 800 hectares in Nasik, Ahmednagar and Pune ( an overall radius of 100 km around Nasik). The Government of Maharashtra has so far registered 579 farmers , who grow tomatoes on over 440 hectares of land and this will be their first sustainable tomato crop which is suitable for processing.
HUL will provide farmers with a buy-back guarantee for their produce as part of the sourcing agreement. HUL can offer global and local knowledge and expertise in sustainable agriculture practices for tomato cultivation, with focus on irrigation practices and seed selection.
Execution of good agricultural practices and adoption of drip irrigation systems will see farmers make significant savings in water, labour, pesticide and fertiliser, limiting any negative impact on the environment. Sustainable farming should also mean increased yields and a better return for the farmer.
Direct access to market
HUL is working in partnership with Varun Agro, an established food processing company, on this project. Varun Agro has set up a dedicated tomato and fruit processing plant for this project. HUL will provide a minimum volume guarantee to Varun Agro. Varun Agro will collect the produce from farmers following harvest. This arrangement will give farmers a ready and effective access to market for their produce with better returns.
The project is a win-win for both the farming community and the company. Some of the benefits are:
- Increase in tomato production & productivity for farmers
- Strengthening of tomato supply chain
- Assured supply of tomato to the company
Good agricultural practices
As part of this project, HUL along with the Department of Agriculture (Government of Maharashtra) officials, primarily extension officers, will pass on sustainable farming and good agricultural practices to the farmers. So far 12 training sessions have been conducted for farmers covering all the farmers registered so far in the project.
HUL is also working in partnership with Bayer CropSciences, Indus and Syngenta to help farmers with good agricultural practices and to increase their yield. HUL has identified two varieties of tomato seeds, selected for their quality and yield, and will be given to farmers at a subsidized cost.. These seeds will provide more pulp per kg of tomato when they are processed and as a result help farmers to achieve better returns.
HUL aims to source 100% of its tomatoes from sustainable sources by 2015. In 2011, 60% of tomatoes used in Kissan ketchup in India were from Sustainable Sources*. HUL already works with smallholder farmers in Karnataka and Punjab. HUL through their processors are continuously engaging the tomato farmers to train & adopt good agricultural practices which has resulted in significantly higher yields.
Long term commitment
As part of the Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever is committed to sourcing sustainably all its agricultural raw materials by 2020. Unilever is one of the world’s largest buyers of processed tomatoes, using an estimated 3% of global production volume. Given the scale of our footprint, sustainable agricultural sourcing is a strategic priority for our business and brands.
As well as protecting the planet’s natural resources, sustainable sourcing helps us to manage a core business risk by ensuring security of supply for the long term. Sustainable sourcing can contribute to better incomes and livelihoods for farmers and their workers. It also helps to maintain soil fertility, enhance water quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity.