Two Mexican mills are first in the Americas to achieve Bonsucro’s smallholder certification

30th July 2021

Sustainable sugarcane continues to progress in México. Ingenio Plan de Ayala and Ingenio Alianza Popular, two mills that belong to our member, Ingenios Santos, recently became certified against the Bonsucro Smallholder Production and Chain of Custody standards.

The sugar mills are in the State of San Luis Potosí, in central México, the mills work with more than 7,000 producers (3,720 for Ingenio Alianza Popular, 3,667 for Ingenio Plan de Ayala) and produce a combined 300,000 tons of sugarcane on average each year. Ingenio Alianza Popular is also one of the country’s most efficient sugar mills.

This double certification is an important step for Ingenios Santos, which envisages recognition as “the sugar producer with the highest value generation for all stakeholders”.

The journey to Bonsucro Certification

For the last few years, Ingenios Santos’ Commercial team saw an increasing need to collaborate with an independent third-party to look at its product quality and compliance with national laws, norms, and regulations, including a perspective on human rights and environmental practices. The Commercial Vice-Presidency, together with Manufacturing and Social Responsibility teams, explored possible options to obtain certification for sustainable sugarcane.

 

In just over two years, the team worked hard to develop the required knowledge and practices to comply with the Bonsucro Standards. The first step was to train internal field staff, who work closely with producers, foremen, cutters, and many other key individuals on the ground.

Training provided an important opportunity for the team to address many vital social and environmental issues such as worker’s contracts, health and safety conditions, hydration and shade, agrochemical and fuel management, soil analysis and more. “The changes are palpable with producers, workers, cutters and the community itself, who have said they are very satisfied with the improvements,” said Sergio Sánchez, Corporate Sustainability Manager. The company sees training as essential and will continue to improve its processes through best practices.

Like all companies that work toward Bonsucro certification, both mills were offered guidance and tools such as the Bonsucro Calculator. “The Calculator has been fundamental to understand the link between the standard’s indicators and a way to measure the results,” explains Sanchez.

Teamwork was key to this achievement, especially because Ingenios Santos doesn’t own the fields, nor the machinery, and doesn’t employ the workers who sow, cultivate, and harvest the sugarcane. “That’s why we have taken on the task of sharing knowledge and supporting producers and workers with PPE, training in human rights, health and safety, wages, among other topics, for the benefit of the entire community,” said Sanchez.

Next steps

In the future, Ingenios Santos aims to deepen its sustainability practices, with further work on human rights, health and safety, and environmental protection. Innovating in this field won’t only benefit the business; it will also positively impact the surrounding communities. “We are certain that this is the way to go in order to achieve our mission and help everyone win”.