There’s a general recognition that we can’t get to where we need to be alone, and therefore we must collaborate and partner to collectively address our shared challenges.
***This interview is an extract from the SAI Platform Annual Report 2021. To find out more about the Crops Working Group go to the Annual Report 2021***
Martina Henry became the Co-chair for the Crops Working Group in 2020 and is Director, Agriculture Sustainability, Kraft Heinz. Since the interview, Martina has stepped down from this position as Co-chair and is now a member of the Steering Committee for SAI Platform’s regenerative agriculture programme.
How was the year for the Crops Working Group?
Despite another year of being unable to meet in person, we’ve had really good engagement of the members through our calls, and we made a positive start on the three new work streams we established. Crops Director, Jenny Edwards*, my Co-chair Brian, and myself split our efforts to each support one work stream in particular and I was mostly involved in the Partnerships work stream.
We’ve developed a framework for a database of potential partners that we have worked with or are aware of, and we’re exploring ways to use this resource to support individual company efforts as well as supporting the Project and Innovation work streams to be more efficient and impactful with the exciting initiatives they’re driving. It’s a new way of working for the group so hopefully we’ll see much more value and engagement going forward.
Why did you elect to get involved with partnerships?
There’s a general recognition that we can’t get to where we need to be alone, and therefore we must collaborate and partner to collectively address our shared challenges. There is also potentially a lot of time spent duplicating effort so in forming this workstream, we hope to create an environment where we can more effectively partner, both between SAI Platform members, and with our wider networks and industry actors. Our goal being to drive efficiencies and scale our impact to address the significant challenges we face if we’re to avoid catastrophic nature loss, decarbonise the sector and reverse the tide of social injustice.
What was the mood generally in the Crops Working Groups this year?
While the group has continued to positively engage and it’s been great to see that come through the new workstreams, I do think people are missing immersing themselves in a physical setting with other people. I know I certainly do! Hopefully, 2022 might allow for us to come together in person at some stage so we can all re-energise and gather momentum from each other. We are going to miss Jenny who brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the Crops Working Group and really spearheaded it for so long.
What excites you about the future?
The Crops Working Group is so large now but if we can really use the power and reach of our network to drive some interesting and progressive projects, I think we can continue to amplify our impact. Due to recent circumstances, we’ve obviously been doing a lot of planning and strategising but going forward, I hope we can start to see more implementation of projects and demonstrate real change on the ground.
I’d like to see us connect more across the SAI Platform membership as well as looking outside the organisation for collaboration opportunities. I see the Crops Working Group taking the lead on connecting with other partners and leveraging external resources to help us drive positive change in 2022. Initiatives like the new Regenerative Agriculture Programme, are a great opportunity to engage all working groups within SAI Platform and directly support the Crops Working Group members and their corporate ambitions. In particular, given the links we hope to establish between our sustainable principles and practices, as expressed through the FSA, and the new, outcome-focused approach that the Regenerative Agriculture Programme is promoting – that’s hugely exciting for us going forward!
What do you think SAI Platform has achieved overall and in terms of the crops sector in the 20 years of its existence?
For a start, SAI Platform has grown massively, from three big food companies coming together with an idea to over 150 members in 2021. The exponential growth, particularly in the past three years, has been quite remarkable. It’s indicative of the growing recognition and sense of urgency, as well as acceptance that we need to collectively tackle some very real issues for the food and agriculture sector if we’re to continue to maintain our licence to operate and feed the growing population of the planet.
The Crops Working Group has been at the centre of many of the achievements and projects of SAI Platform over the past 20 years, from the FSA and Spotlight to projects such as Doñana, and now the Regenerative Agriculture Programme. With such a diverse and knowledgeable group of passionate people, I’m hugely positive about the potential for change pioneered by the Crops Working Group, as well as the wider SAI Platform membership. Congratulations SAI Platform on 20 years of promoting sustainable agriculture!
*Robyn Cooper has since become the Crops Working Group Manager, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about SAI Platform’s Crops Working Group and how to get involved.