COFCO and World Bank’s IFC partner for more sustainable soy in Brazil

COFCO International and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, are partnering to help improve the sustainability of soy farming in Brazil’s Cerrado Biome.

IFC will support COFCO International’s subsidiary in Brazil to develop a more traceable and sustainable supply chain in the Matopiba region, including direct and indirect non pre-financed suppliers. The work will focus on screening soy farms in Cerrado’s vulnerable Matopiba region to ensure compliance with key environmental and social criteria, and build farmer capacity to apply more sustainable farming practices.

Although Cerrado’s soy-related land conversion has been decreasing since 2001, the Matopiba region, comprising the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia, has experienced higher land conversion rates linked to rising global demand for soy, Brazil’s main export commodity.

The screening will use farm contours, satellite imagery and other geographical information and official data. The aim is to ensure that supplying farms are free of forced labour, are not located on indigenous land, conservation units or embargoed areas, and are in compliance with the Amazon Soy Moratorium.

The project will also establish land conversion profiles for individual farms and assess supplier compliance with the Cadastro Ambiental Rural (CAR), a mandatory electronic registration which combines geospatial data of rural properties with their environmental information, including legally protected areas.

COFCO International and IFC expect the project to cover 85 percent of COFCO International Brazil’s direct suppliers in the Matopiba region by 2021, and to fully cover the region by 2023.

Agrosatélite, a Brazilian company specializing in remote sensing satellite images and geographic intelligence, has been selected as the project’s technical partner.

This partnership follows COFCO International’s recent announcement that it expects to achieve full traceability of all soy purchased directly from Brazilian farmers by 2023. It will help COFCO International to build on – and go further than – its work on traceability.

“Traceability was never our final destination but rather a tool to go further,” says Wei Peng, Head of Sustainability with COFCO International. “With this project we will be able to further screen non pre-financed suppliers for key sustainability criteria and identify those with whom we want to engage more closely.”

An equity investor in COFCO International since 2014, IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and the largest global development institution focused on the private sector. IFC has been instrumental in developing COFCO International’s sustainable soy sourcing practices, supporting the company to screen all its pre-financed Brazil soy suppliers for social and environmental risks, as publicly disclosed in COFCO International's sustainable soy sourcing policy