FAQ

Your questions answered

You probably have some questions about how The Good Growth Plan will work. So here are some answers to help you better understand our six commitments.

The Good Growth Plan

What is The Good Growth Plan?

The Good Growth Plan includes specific commitments to address critical challenges the world faces in feeding a growing population. By 2020, we commit to:

  • Make crops more efficient: Increase the average productivity of the world's major crops by 20% without using more land, water or inputs
  • Rescue more farmland: Improve the fertility of 10m hectares of farmland on the brink of degradation
  • Help biodiversity flourish: Enhance biodiversity on 5m hectares of farmland
  • Empower smallholders: Reach 20m smallholders and enable them to increase productivity by 50%
  • Help people stay safe: Train 20m farm workers on labor safety, especially in developing countries
  • Look after every worker: Strive for fair labor conditions throughout our entire supply chain network

Why is Syngenta making these commitments?

The world is facing its toughest challenge. Every single day the world's population is increasing by 200,000 people. And if we are going to feed them without harming the planet, we need to find a better way.

The increasing strain we are placing on land, water and energy to grow food and at the same time support booming urban populations is unprecedented. Our future depends on finding solutions to these challenges. The Good Growth Plan is our commitment to make a measurable contribution to six aspects of this challenge by 2020.

Our intention is to make a deep, lasting and positive impact on the farmers and rural communities who provide the world's food security and the long-term sustainability of our planet.

How will Syngenta measure progress?

The Good Growth Plan embodies six commitments with specific targets and metrics. We will hold ourselves accountable through rigorous measurements for each one including third party assessments and audits and we will report on our progress annually. We freely admit we do not have all the answers yet but we are committed to work in partnership with farmers and interested stakeholders.

Why is Syngenta making this announcement now?

We have taken time to develop a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to help improve the sustainability of agriculture. We wanted to share our plan and our approach as soon as we felt it was ready to be discussed with our stakeholders. We look forward to feedback from a broad cross-section of stakeholders as we move to implementing programs. We will certainly learn along the way and make improvements to ensure we are making an impact in each of the six commitment areas.

Why these specific targets and what will they contribute to the overall issue at hand?

We believe all six commitments in The Good Growth Plan address the biggest challenges of agriculture today, which are the means to improve the sustainability of farming and the prosperity of rural communities, especially of smallholder farmers. Improving the productivity of farming, improving biodiversity and the fertility of land, enhancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and training farmers to use farming technology safely are at the very heart of our business. It just makes sense.

What role will your partners play and who will they be?

We want partners to be active participants in what we are trying to accomplish and would like to develop partnerships for each of the six commitments. These could include collaborations on the ground in terms of implementing programs, auditing our systems for tracking the quality of progress or providing advice on how we can do better and to achieve greater impact. We are talking to a range of potential partners at the moment. For example, we support the UNCCD in launching a Soil Leadership Academy to take concrete action to combat soil degradation.Together with environmental NGOs, we are exploring opportunities to preserve biodiversity in programs such as Operation Pollinator. We signed an agreement with USAID to collaborate in our efforts to improve smallholder productivity. We have a long-standing partnership with the FLA working to ensure fair labor conditions on our supply farms.

Why do you have to increase productivity?

Farmers have to increase the productivity of their land to meet the demand of the future. However, our commitment goes beyond just increasing productivity, it is about increasing productivity without using more land, water or inputs. By using measures that quantify the 'input use per unit of output produced', we can ensure that productivity and efficiency increases can be captured. In developing countries where the total use of agricultural inputs use per hectare is still very low - and is likely to increase in the future to enable growth in yield - we will introduce the best solutions available and tailor them to the local needs to ensure optimal resource efficiency including land and water.

How do the commitments ensure people have better access to food?

The statistics are staggering: the UN estimates that by 2050 we will have more than 9 billion people on this planet and the FAO calculated that we will have to produce about 70% more food to meet the demand of the future. Sustainably increasing farm productivity can provide the necessary supply needed. However, we are aware that we also need the markets to bring the produce to the people who in turn need the means to access it. That is why we want to work in partnership to make sure that production and distribution go hand-in-hand.

Is increasing productivity enough to help smallholders prosper?

Increasing productivity is an important first step to raise smallholders above a subsistence level. Once farmers produce a surplus, it becomes critical to help them gain access to markets so that they can turn their higher production into profit. This will make them more financially secure and food secure. Syngenta is developing approaches that help smallholders link to buyers and markets. In addition, we are also developing solutions to help farmers gain access to finance and insurance, and to knowledge and information. We aim to conduct impact evaluations to measure whether increased productivity is resulting in a better quality of life for these farmers and communities.

Who at Syngenta will be responsible for delivering these?

Every Syngenta employee will be involved in some aspect of delivering The Good Growth Plan. Syngenta's regional and territory business teams will implement the work on the ground; however, the Syngenta Executive Committee, which has been directly involved in developing this program, has ultimate responsibility for delivering the commitments.

Who are the partners you mention?

We want partners to be active participants in what we are trying to accomplish and would like to develop partnerships for each of the six commitments. These could include collaborations on the ground in terms of implementing programs, auditing our systems for tracking the quality of progress or providing advice on how we can do better and to achieve greater impact. We are talking to a range of potential partners at the moment. For example, we support the UNCCD in launching a Soil Leadership Academy to take concrete action to combat soil degradation. Together with environmental NGOs, we are exploring opportunities to preserve biodiversity in programs such as Operation Pollinator. We signed an agreement with USAID to collaborate in our efforts to improve smallholder productivity. We have a long-standing partnership with the FLA working to ensure fair labor conditions on our supply farms.

How real are these commitments, how will you hold yourself accountable?

Improving the productivity of farming, improving biodiversity and the fertility of land, improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and training farmers to use farming technology safely are at the very heart of our business so these targets are very real for us. We understand the need to be held accountable and provide transparency for our results so we will work with NGO partners and other third parties to audit the progress.

How will we know you are being transparent and honest about progress?

We will provide our partners and third party auditors complete access to the program implementers and the reference farms where the productivity measurements will be taken. In addition, the Good Growth Plan will be reviewed as part of the annual audit, assurance and corporate reporting process.

Why not just stop selling chemicals and GM seeds that most people think are bad anyway if you really want to make a difference?

If the world's population was 1 billion it may be feasible to grow enough food without modern technology such as GM seeds and pesticides. With a current population of 7 billion and growing, it is simply not possible. However, in some parts of the world inputs such as pesticides are used too much and this waste must be addressed.

Some people think pesticides are inherently bad and poisoning the environment. Anything you do as a pesticide manufacturer will only increase the damage to the environment and not only that, but to human health. Why should we believe what you are telling us now?

Pesticides are invented to control pests, like medicine is invented to control illnesses. Pesticides are used in all farming systems - organic and modern. All pesticides used in modern agriculture are extensively tested for environmental and human safety and only authorized if the regulatory bodies in each country assess they are safe. Our responsibility is to ensure that pesticides are used only when and where needed in the right amount and that the right precautions are taken. That is why we commit to train 20 million farmers on the safe use of pesticides.

How do we know you are serious about improving how agriculture is done today?

By our actions. We are implementing programs to measure the commitments and through our work with third parties will be transparent in how we are progressing. In addition, the Good Growth Plan will be reviewed as part of the annual audit, assurance and corporate reporting process.

Why has it taken you so long to take this approach?

We have been working to improve agricultural productivity for a very long time. Our integrated strategy is all about bringing new and better solutions to the farmer. Rather than just continue to talk about the challenges the world is facing, we wanted to demonstrate with specific commitments, under a specific timeframe what we feel we could do to help meet the challenge of growing more food without harming the planet.