Having secured Bonsucro® certification in 2014, our Honduras-based sugarcane producer, Azunosa, continues to work hard to push the boundaries on sustainable sugarcane production.

Sugar production has a significant employment impact, especially in developing countries where more than 70% of sugar worldwide is produced. However, it is also associated with a range of social and environmental challenges. Agriculture cuts across a number of the different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both as a challenge and opportunity.

Azucarera del Norte (Azunosa), our sugarcane farming operation in Honduras, has emerged as a guiding light within the region through its efforts to improve both its environmental and social practices, and to promote an exchange of learnings between mills. Their work is driving business value, while contributing to multiple SDGs.

The success of this long-term effort was recognised in November 2014, when Azunosa became the first sugarcane producer in Central America and the Caribbean to be certified by Bonsucro®, a global non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering the sector’s sustainability. Last year the company achieved further recognition, receiving the Bonsucro® Leadership Award for promoting the development of a sustainable sugarcane sector in the region.

Numerous activities have earned Azunosa its prized recognition. These include new practices aimed at optimising energy and water usage, zero tolerance for child labour in the industry and a commitment to improve the livelihoods of small-scale sugarcane farmers in Honduras.

The last of these has been achieved through Azunosa’s ‘Small Farmer Collaboration Agreement’, which has given smallholder cane growers an opportunity to participate in the company’s value chain. The agreement offers farmers free training and supervision on responsible farming practices, and a monthly income throughout the year equivalent to the legal minimum wage.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of Azunosa School. Fully supported by Azunosa, the school is a community-focused initiative that provides education for children from low-income families, particularly the children of cane cutters. This provides parents with an alternative to taking children to work, and helps stop them becoming child labourers. In a further boost to the school’s prestige, a recent agreement with Honduras’ Secretary of Education means its graduates now have access to scholarships for the country’s Agriculture Engineering Program.

Azunosa’s sustainability model pays heed to its environmental responsibilities, too. The company is investing in technology that will reduce particulate emissions by 80%, while it already deploys GPS tracking on agricultural and sugarcane transportation vehicles, to optimise routes and reduce fuel consumption. By modifying traditional cane washing procedures, Azunosa has also been able to save around 1.4 million cubic metres of processed water each year, plus it has reduced pesticide use by 27% and cut the amount of vegetation burnt after harvesting.

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