Why is Sustainability Important for Agri-Business?
Updated: Nov 4, 2018
Sustainability is important for any business in any industry but is especially important for agri-businesses.
The success of agri-businesses is heavily reliant on the natural environment - and vice versa - the natural environment has a reliance on responsible food production. The world's single largest cause of environmental degradation is food and biomass production. It is estimated that approximately 40% of the world's land is currently used for agricultural production. Approximately 70% of water withdrawals are channeled to food and biomass production.
Sustainable farming practices in 2015 were predicted to be the next revolution in agriculture by John Kierkegaard, a farming systems agronomist at CSIRO Agriculture. This is evident through the uptake of sustainable agriculture as a policy priority by major political parties around the country, the offering of sustainable agricultural courses at Australian universities and the commitment of some of Australia's leading independent bodies in agriculture to the idea of sustainability.
So why exactly is sustainability important for agri-business?
Agriculture is heavily dependent on weather and fluctuation in prices of essential utilities, such as water and energy. Forward-planning, budgeting and strategising is important for any business but can be rather difficult when there are so many factors in play. By adopting sustainable agricultural practices, agri-businesses can reduce their reliance on external factors. One such example is Sundrop Farms in South Australia, powered by solar energy and desalinated sea water.
A crucial aspect of forward-planning is to ensure ongoing production for years into the future. The use of finite resources in farming practices is not sustainable for years into the future as these resources will eventually become depleted. The transition to renewable resources is not only beneficial but 100% necessary for any agri-business which hopes to operate years into the future.
The world's population is increasing - as is Australia's - and is expected to continue to increase over the coming years. To support this growing population, we need to increase agricultural production and ensure we can maintain this level of agricultural production. Sustainability practices are the first step on this path. Sustainability practices also will contribute to an agri-business' economic sustainability commitment as food security means stabilised commodity prices, which is important for the national and global economies.
Devising sustainable agricultural systems allows for the continuation of an agri-business. The continuation of an agri-business means the continuation of employment for those living in rural communities. Sundrop Farms, again, provide an excellent example of agri-business' role in supporting rural communities. When the Port Augusta coal-fired power station shut down, Sundrop Farms was able to provide employment to many people in the region who were out of work.
Sustainable agriculture also means sustainability of quality. Good quality agricultural products are filled with nutrients. Nutritious food then feeds the consumers, which creates a healthier society, an important aspect of an agri-business' commitment to social sustainability.
Biodiversity and the Environment
A commitment to the environment is a crucial part of an agri-business' sustainability plan. Supporting biodiversity, being conscious of land degradation and ensuring a carbon neutral system are just some of the ways an agri-business can commit to environmental sustainability, which will, in turn, ensure their own sustainability for years to come.
If you are interested in how to become a sustainable agri-business, contact us today!
This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.