Interview with Kevin Ogorzalek of Barry Callebault

7th September 2022

This year SAI Platform turns 20! And to help us celebrate this incredible milestone we’re talking to some of the members and partners who have helped us develop and champion sustainable agriculture over these last twenty years.

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“Whether we’re talking about land use change, impact on biodiversity and GHG or labour, agriculture is transforming the face of our planet”

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Kevin Ogorzalek is Co-Chair of the Americas Working Group and Sustainability Sourcing Manager for the Americas at Barry-Callebaut. 

What do you think SAI Platform has achieved in the past 20 years?  

The most important things are that it has built a movement and created a network of dedicated professionals able to leverage their positions within their companies and cooperatives and use SAI Platform and the FSA on the ground to mainstream concepts in agriculture that were peripheral.  

This is bringing forward and continuously improving the verification approach so it focuses more on metrics and regenerative agriculture. We’re also starting conversations with certain suppliers that were simply not being had before. 

These could cover everything from using the Cool Farm tool that will lead to a reduction in GHG in European sugar beet to starting a conversation about how we’re going to introduce sustainability itself into Russian and Turkish sugar beet production.  

When Barry Callebaut and some of our peers in SAI Platform introduced the FSA to the Russian sugar beet industry a few years ago, the Russians didn’t even have a word for sustainability in agriculture. That change in mindset has been critical. 

An important thing to remember is that SAI Platform is not just delivering impact on the ground and improved supply chain performance through the FSA. As the FSA moves in, it also forces other initiatives to raise their game. 

In 2022, we will be celebrating 20 years of SAI Platform. What do 20 years of SAI platform and the campaign slogan “People powered agriculture” mean to you personally? 

Agriculture is a uniquely human enterprise so it’s a great framing of what we’re trying to do. Also, whether we’re talking about land use change, impact on biodiversity and GHG or labour, agriculture is transforming the face of our planet more than any others.  

So we need to put people at the centre of these challenges, as well as unleashing the collective intelligence and creativity of people involved in SAI Platform to create solutions and rebuild what’s been lost and degraded while growing nutritious food and stewarding nature. 

What do you think SAI Platform should be focusing on for the next 20 years, as an organisation that serves your industry? What are the issues and what do you think SAI Platform can do about them? 

We know what the key issues are related to climate change, biodiversity and species decline, challenges to water availability and quality as well as the human rights impacts in agriculture. Our goal is to regenerate and re-imagine agriculture to solve them. 

What SAI Platform can really focus on in the next 20 years is using its frameworks and different programmes to enable and empower change management along different supply chains. We can create collaborations that are truly unique and can unlock human capacity to facilitate the change we need in mindset, practices, and outcomes.  

What movements in technology do you see that are gaining momentum now that could really be established in 20 years’ time and transform agriculture? 

It’s an interesting question, as we wrestle with the fact that, although tech has enabled the transformation of our planet, it hasn’t all been positive from an agricultural perspective. 

Where I see tech coming into play more is in giving us a better ability to monitor our environmental impact, whether we’re talking about carbon sequestration in soils and above or below ground biomass, predicting yields, predicting and improving water use, and improving input use, not just efficiencies. Technology has the potential to create new ways of managing all of these factors. There’s a lot of data out there. It’s critical that we figure out how to effectively collect, analyse and use the data so it is contextually compelling and useful for supply chain partners to facilitate more sustainable farming practices.  

For more information on SAI Platform’s work, please visit our website.