Understanding farming contexts and regenerative agriculture in practice

2nd November 2023

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The annual International Executive Programme on Sustainable Sourcing and Trade is organised by the International Trade Centre in partnership with SAI Platform and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership. One of the key focus of the Programme this year was on regenerative agriculture. To accompany online modules to identify sustainability risks and opportunities within global value chains, several course participants joined a field visit to experience first-hand what regenerative agriculture looks like in Portugal.

Monte Silveiro Bio and Veracruz Almonds hosted the programme’s participants during the 23rd – 25th October, 2023 in Portugal.

Monte Silveiro Bio has been an organic farm since 1999 and is located in Castelo Branco, Portugal. Regenerative agriculture and planned animal management are farming practices that allow the farm to produce nutrient-dense food while regenerating soil health and soil fertility. Their 700 hectares are divided into silvopastoral systems and arable land to produce cereals, legumes, fodder and olive groves. Diogo Pinho explained how the farm incorporates animals into their production systems and the principles of circular economy to maximise yields while reducing external inputs.

In contrast, Veracruz Almonds focuses solely on almond production systems and implements different regenerative agriculture practices applicable to their farming context. Francisco Marques elaborated on the types of conservation, regenerative and precision agriculture practices that are applied to their 1000-hectare orchards. Utilising various innovations, Veracruz carefully measures and monitors the health of its trees to ensure efficient resource management. Investing in technology such as precision irrigation equipment, Aqua4d technology and drone technology, Veracruz reduces the impact of uncontrollable variables such as water scarcity, pests and disease. They have recently demonstrated their sustainability efforts by achieving FSA Gold for their almond orchards, making them the first gold-certified almond producers in Europe.

These field visits rightfully demonstrate that regenerative agriculture is context-specific, and requires an adaptable and flexible implementation approach highlighted by SAI Platform’s #RegeneratingTogether framework. The global framework for regenerative agriculture is designed for practical use at farm level to drive farmers’ transition to regenerative agriculture. It will allow crops, dairy and beef farmers anywhere in the world to work with supply chain partners to achieve measurable regenerative agriculture outcomes and enables the industry to translate the often-ambiguous concepts of regenerative agriculture into action at farm level. By implementing the framework and collecting first-hand data from farmers and growers engaged with our members across the globe, we aim to continuously learn, adapt, and illustrate regenerative farms and value chains at scale.

After three days of interesting presentations, insightful field visits and fruitful discussions, participants left inspired and excited to share learnings within their organisations. Thank you very much to Veracruz Almonds and Monte Silveiro Bio for hosting and sharing the opportunities and challenges you face in the transition to regenerative agriculture!