Standards Development


Standards Development

Bonsucro, as a multi-stakeholder organisation, seeks to engage members when changes are proposed and made to the Standard. Here you will find detailed information about this process and current work on standards development, as well as information on how these key documents were created.

Smallholder Public Consultation

Bonsucro is holding public consultations on the draft Bonsucro Production Standard for Smallholder Farmers and draft Bonsucro Calculator for Smallholder Farmers. The Smallholder Steering Committee has worked with Bonsucro staff to develop the draft standard and calculator to be applicable for smallholder farmers seeking to adopt social, economic, and environmental sustainability practices. There are several ways to participate in the consultation, the first consultation period was open until 15 February 2018, and will be followed by a second public consultation period in March. If you have any questions or would like to submit comments on the draft outside of the consultation survey below, please contact Sonia Slavinski.

The consultation period has now closed as the drafts and comments are now under review. You are welcome to download the most recent drafts here:

Smallholder Review

The Bonsucro Production Standard has been under review for the smallholder context since March 2017, when the review was approved by the board. Smallholder farmers are a crucial component in many sugarcane industries around the world. To ensure that smallholders have the same opportunities for performance improvement as other producers, Bonsucro embarked on a review of the Bonsucro Production Standard and the Certification System in the smallholder context.

The review has of the Bonsucro Production Standard in the smallholder context included the following:

  • Participation from 50+ members and stakeholders in online consultations
  • Workshops at Bonsucro Technical Week in Mexico, India, and Thailand
  • On-farm visits for smallholder feedback in India, Brazil, Thailand, and Mexico
  • Input and leadership from the Smallholder Steering Committee

Smallholder Steering Committee

Roger ArmitageTSGRO- Smallholder Programme
Dr. Lorena CasanovaPrograma Sustenables para Certificacion
Dr. ManjuEast Asia Sugar Group
Shauna Alexander MohrED&F Man
Ingrid RichardsonUnilever

If you have any questions about the review, please contact us. Bonsucro is a full member of the ISEAL Alliance and conducts the process of standards revision in accordance with the ISEAL Standard Setting Code.

Key Process Documents

Development of the Bonsucro Production Standard

The Bonsucro Production Standard was the first-ever metric based Standard which measures the impact of the sustainable production of sugar cane.  In 2008, the Bonsucro established three Technical Working Groups (TWG’s).  The experts were drawn from sugarcane producing areas and reflect a balance of interest groups and global representation.

The period of public consultation for Version 1 was 60 days (in accordance with ISEAL) and the deadline for receipt of comments was 30th April 2009.  Individuals, NGOs, producers, farmers, small-scale growers and companies took the time to comment.

As many stakeholders as possible were encouraged to comment on the Standard and the Bonsucro embarked on a series of Stakeholder Outreach Meetings, engaging in face-to-face, field and factory meetings with producers and small-scale growers in:  Australia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, East Africa, South Africa, India, the European Union and Switzerland.  Over the same period, the same auditor conducted pilot studies using the Standard in Australia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, South Africa and India. The results of these audits gave a representative view of typical mill and field indicator values.  These values have been factored into Version 2.

The process that was adopted to develop Version 2 was as follows: TWG leaders reviewed the feedback they had received to Version 1 from three sources – public comments made via the website, input from the Stakeholder Outreach Meetings, and the results from the pilot studies.

At Bonsucro’s Annual General Meeting on 4-5 November 2009, the Supervisory Board, Management Committee and TWG leaders discussed the proposed changes and approved both the content and the process that was followed.  The result was Version 2.

During that year, the TWG’s and Bonsucro members conducted Stakeholder Outreach Meetings on Version 1 of the Standard and using the input of the small scale producers, processing and milling and the results of the pilot studies the Bonsucro developed Version 2.

Version 2 of the Standard was then placed on the Bonsucro website for 60 days for public consultation.  The results from the public consultation were discussed at both the then Bonsucro Management Committee and Supervisory Board and the Bonsucro Production Standard was then finalised.

Consultation Activities

Two 60 day public consultations were conducted along with Packard funded Stakeholder Outreach Program. The program was managed and presented by the leaders of the Technical Working Groups and key members of Bonsucro (then the BSI) during the consultation phase which was completed by October 2009.

The reason for interaction between the Standard developers and stakeholders was to ensure the Standard was developed transparently and accepted by the stakeholders where it will impact on the most eg small and large scale farmers and millers. It was absolutely critical that the Stakeholder Outreach Meetings took place in situ in order to be able to assess the need for local variation and adaption of the Standard to local conditions. Pilot Audit studies were conducted in the same countries as the outreach meetings.

The Stakeholder Outreach Program complemented the virtual (online) public consultation version one and version two of the Standard. The program was a series of Stakeholder Outreach Meetings in selected representative geographical regions. The meetings were held in India, Africa, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Australia, Switzerland and the European Union.

The audience of each of the meetings differed and consisted of invited representatives from producer groups eg millers, commercial growers, field workers, labor representatives and small scale farmers. (For example small scale Zulu farmers’ cooperatives in KwaZulu Natal).

In Brazil, Bonsucro worked with the co-operation of UNICA – the biggest sugar association, in India we partner with the Thirsty Crops project for small scale farmers and with EID Parry and the Indian Sugar Millers Association for large scale producers.

In Africa, Bonsucro partnered with the Swaziland Sugar Association the Noodsburg Co-operative (which includes small scale farmers) inter-alia, PANGEA and in the Dominican Republic with the producer members.

A typical agenda of such a meeting included interaction with an invited group of small-scale sugar cane farmers who were introduced to the Standard using a medium they felt most comfortable with. For example in India, a number of small scale farms were visited and this presented a real opportunity at a practical level to discuss with the farmers elements of the Standard such as water usage, irrigation systems, pesticide control and fertilizer usage.

Discussion then followed and this was facilitated, by a Technical Working Group expert and local area sugar cane extension officers, to assess whether the indicator values within the Standard needed to be adjusted in accordance with local conditions or indeed whether new indicator values needed to be considered.

Users and intermediate users who are mainly based in the developed countries were also involved in the Stakeholder Outreach Meetings and a typical example of how such a meeting was organised as follows: Introduction: scene-setting presentations on the implications of Biofuel policies in the EU; followed by the implications for developing countries of expanding sugar cane production to meet new EU ethanol import requirements; the use of technology to measure and improve environmental sustainability (water, soil, air and conservation); a review of the Standard Version One and the potential for implementation of the Standard – for example European ethanol and sugar importers.

A typical Stakeholder Outreach Meeting in Brazil consisted of UNICA convening NGOs, miller–grower companies who tend to be well developed to assess the Standard, and separate workshops were given to farm worker representatives to assess not only the technical aspects of the Standard and the social targets. In all these meetings, the BSI relied on the co-operation of its members to facilitate access.

At this stage, the Technical Working Groups of Bonsucro, through the Stakeholder Outreach Program were concerned in collating data which allowed universal verifiers eg (The Standard) to be captured in as far as possible with local variations identified where growing circumstances require it. This could only be achieved by concentrated field visits to the geographical regions the BSI identified.

Funding was required to enable Bonsucro to undertake these in-depth consultations which were necessary to ensure the transparency, integrity of the Standard and at the same time to encourage farming practice behavioural changes in order to meet the Bonsucro Standard metric targets.