Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food to provide sustainable food supply

January 14, 2021 - COVID-19's impact continues to be felt, especially among vulnerable parts of in rural Indonesia where food security and income generation have been put at risk by the pandemic.

In response, leading palm oil-based agribusiness, Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food, has increased focus on food security and livelihoods programmes to support communities where the company operates.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw that access to nutritious food was an even greater challenge for rural communities. Our Alternative Livelihood and Integrated Ecological Farming Programmes, have been helping communities plan, fund, and grow their own food, allowing them to be less reliant on supplies from outside the village. The programme helps farmers feed themselves, plus earn much needed extra income. As a bonus, improving farmer productivity in these communities reduces the need to open more land for farming, reducing the risk of deforestation," said Anita Neville, Senior Vice President, Group Corporate Communications.

Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food collaborates with several partners, including world-renowned Wageningen University, to deliver its Alternative Livelihoods and Integrated Ecological Farming Programmes.

The programmes provide workshops for villagers in different communities to increase soil fertility using organic fertilizer, resulting in healthier crops.

Local farmers and smallholders are taught good agricultural practice and given access to modern agriculture experts. Farmers are also encouraged to sell in the local market to generate income and helping them fulfil their daily needs.

To date, the programmes have helped more than 40 communities in Sumatera and Kalimantan upgrade their agricultural practices and grow cash crops, ranging from organic vegetables to coffee. At the same time, reducing the risk to forests from deforestation to open up more cropland.

Improving livelihoods and ensuring a stable food supply are not the only benefits of these programmes. Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food is teaching rural communities, farmers and smallholders how to farm with sustainable practices in mind -- reducing pressure on forest lands, eliminating the use of fire to open areas for cropping, focusing on water management and implementing regenerative agriculture techniques to maintain healthy soils.

"Rural and farming communities are uniquely reliant on the environment in which they live and work. A healthy environment, coupled with good techniques, equals a healthy harvest. This is an investment in their and our future," said Anita.

Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food also walks the talk with its significant conservation efforts. The company has conserved more than 178,000 hectares of forest area -- 78,000 hectares of which are within Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food's own concessions. Through its community engagement programme, Desa Makmur Peduli Api, the company has also successfully prevented fire to only 0.5% area impacted in 2019.

"COVID-19 has shone a light on the vulnerabilities in the global food system. Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food has been working for several years on building the resilience of the communities in which we work and will continue to do so," concluded Anita.