The FSA’s Growing A Better Planet Award 2023 goes to Phata Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative

7th June 2023

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SAI Platform is delighted to announce that the winner of the first FSA Growing A Better Planet Award is Phata Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative in Malawi. As a smallholder farmer-owned organisation with 1130 household members, Phata stood out among the contenders for their wholistic approach to sustainability and their significant contributions to the local community.

“As the Phata Team, we are very proud to have achieved this award! This could only be achieved with the continued efforts of the management team and the committed leadership of our cooperative’s Executive Committee.”

Bouke Bijl of AgriCane, co-founder of Phata.

The award’s judging panel included Iver Drabaek, Head of Sustainability at Nordzucker and FSA Steering Committee Chair, Dionys Foster, SAI Platform Director General, and Robyn Cooper, SAI Platform Crops Manager. They evaluated each entry based on its objectives, implementation strategies, collaboration efforts, and the impact they have had on social, environmental, and business performance.

The judges concluded that Phata’s entry showed commitment to collaboration and dedication to ensuring that implementing sustainable practices benefitted and improved the livelihoods of their farmers and the long-term viability of the cooperative. Furthermore, Phata’s experience demonstrates that the FSA can be applied in any context to great success; last year, Phata was awarded a Silver Performance Level against the FSA, a fantastic achievement.

Click to view Phata Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative’s entry

Illovo Sugar Malawi, an important long-standing partner of Phata which delivers its sugarcane to Illovo’s Nchalo Mill, nominated and supported Phata for this award. Illovo Sugar Malawi Managing Director Lekani Katandula said:

“This award recognises the cooperative’s leadership in sustainability, operating within a community stressed by climate change, deforestation and poverty. They have driven interventions such as renewable charcoal production, crop diversification and biodiversity which have demonstrated that sustainability is possible, and indeed essential, within a smallholder context.”

Congratulating Phata on their achievement Joe Rushton, FSA Director commented: “Phata’s journey is a truly heart-warming example of what collaboration through on-farm sustainability can achieve and an inspiration for other businesses using the FSA.”

SAI Platform and the FSA Team would like to extend our thanks to all the participants who submitted their projects for consideration. The commitment from FSA users to sustainable agriculture is truly commendable, and a clear example of continued efforts to drive positive change within the industry.

Together, we can grow a better planet!

From right to left are: Katharine Teague, Vice President of SAI Platform and ABFSugar Group ESG Director; Ibrahim Bwanali, Treasurer; Wiston Yohane, Chairperson; Regina Meki, Committee member; Janet Chikadza, Committee member; and Lackson Banda, Secretary, together with Lekani Katandula (extreme left)

About Phata Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative

Phata Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative was established in partnership with Agricane using funding from the European Union and impact investors like AgDevCo, and they work closely with Illovo Sugar Malawi. Phata is based in the Shire Valley of Malawi. The farmers have pooled their land to irrigate more than 600 hectares sugarcane, which is milled at Illovo Sugar Malawi’s Nchalo factory. Illovo Sugar Malawi has been a long-term partner of Phata. Bulk procurement, synergising haulage contracts and expanding pump stations to accommodate Phata’s pumps are just some of the examples of support that Illovo has delivered.

The cooperative also supplies fresh fruit, grains, and fish in the local community from their orchards, fields, and an aquaculture project. They practice environmental conservation through beekeeping, sustainable forest management, and sustainable charcoal production. These efforts have improved the livelihoods of the members and contributed to local economic growth.