A conversation with Franco Costantini from Control Union

Franco Costantini is Managing Director at Control Union (UK). I asked him to tell me a little about his new initiative: regenagri.

Our objective is to help the world’s farmers – and the food industry in general – to reduce soil degradation and GHG as well as to increase the value of land and its products. We are building on the work that Control Union has been doing for many years in sustainable farming, supporting agribusinesses and farms to transition to more regenerative practices. By that, I mean promoting farming techniques that increase soil health, encourage biodiversity, sequester CO2 and improve water management.

The regenagri assessment is based on about 25 items covering a range of criteria from soil parameters, biodiversity to agroforestry.

Members of regenagri have access to the regenagri platform, advisory and certifications. The platform provides farms and organisations with assessment tools and data analytics solutions.

One group of farmers working in one area may deal with issues completely different from farmers in another region. The regenagri assessments identifies the practices to improve and provide members with insight on the progress over time.

It sounds as if you are concentrating on the health of the soil…

Soil health is indeed key, but all aspects will be addressed, and everything is linked.

The world grows 95 percent of its food in topsoil. The UN FAO has warned that if we continue to degrade soil at the rate we are now, the world could run out of topsoil in around 60 years. If we carry on at this rate the world has only 60 harvests left.

The matter is urgent as improving soil health is a long-term process. Improvement of soil parameters is often not seen before 3-4 years.

How is the regenagri designed?

The program has two blocks. The first is the digital hub, where members can track their regenerative performance and measure the impacts of their agricultural practices. Members can compare progress between different farms and overtime.

The other block is continuous improvement. Members can access advisory and regenagri certification from ourselves or other approved organisations. Only members can also become certified.

Who are you aiming for as members?

At this stage, we are focusing on agribusinesses and medium to large farms or cooperatives.

We are also looking to partner with organisations who can help support and develop the programme.

What is in it for the farmer?

Our intention is to create a balance between the economic costs of implementing this programme with the environmental benefits. Ultimately, we are looking at our system to lead to higher value products and reduced production costs.

Not only does improved soil health improve yields but it also increases, or at least maintains, the value of the land. The value of land tends to increase when it is carbon positive.

Subsidies are increasingly being linked to regenerative agriculture. To access subsidies in the future farmers will need not just to implement these processes, but also to monitor them.

How does the regenagri certification work?

Given the complexity and the variety of the aspects within the regenerative agriculture concept, the regenagri certification will be applied to selected types of farms or commodities. As the program develops, we will be extending the certification to additional areas.

The regenagri certification is based on a third-party assessment based on the regenagri criteria. Farms fulfilling the minimum criteria are awarded the certification. Certified organisations can claim the regenagri certification on products or for marketing.

The regenagri logo means that the farm applies regenerative practices and is in a continuous improvement journey.

What is the next stage?

We presented the initiative on the climate change panel at the International Grain Conference in June 2020. We are now approaching organisations interested or engaged

in regenerative agriculture to become founding members, as well as opening pilots.

Regenagri is a regenerative agriculture initiative aimed at securing the health of the land and the wealth of those who live on it.

To find out more, please visit our website on www.regenagri.org

© Commodity Conversations ® 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *