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AGRICULTURE : Altéo a reçu sa certification de BONSUCRO hier à Union Flacq. « Une prestigieuse reconnaissance légitime » souligne le ministre Maneesh Gobin

Le Dr Jean Claude Autrey remettant le certificat de BONSUCRO à M. Fabrin de Marassé Esnouf, le CEO d’Alteo

Fier, heureux, mais humble. C’est le sentiment que dégageaient les dirigeants d’Altéo hier lorsque le Dr Jean Claude Autrey, président du Board des Directeurs de BONSUCRO a remis à la puissante entreprise de l’Est, sa certification pour Bonsucro Production Standard et Bonsucro Chain of Custody Standard en faveur de ses filiales Alteo Agri Ltd et Alteo Milling Ltd

La cérémonie, sous la présidence de M. Mario Antonio, Senior Human Resources & Communications Manager chez Altéo, s’est déroulée dans la simplicité en présence de Maneesh Gobin, Attorney General, ministre de l’Ago-Industrie de la Sécurité Alimentaire, de MM. Fabien de Marassé Enouf, le nouveau CEO du Groupe Alteo, Satish Purmessur, CEO de la Mauritius Sugar Cane Industry Authority, Devesh Dhukira, CEO du Mauritius Sugar Syndicate et des employés de la compagnie sucrière au Altéo’s Club House de l’Union Flacq.

.  Le ministre Maneesh Gobin

Sans doute, lors de cette cérémonie, on retiendra le discours du Dr Jean Claude Autrey. D’ailleurs, le ministre Manish Gobin n’a pas voulu prononcer un long discours car, comme il l’a si bien souligné, le Dr Autrey, véritable connaisseur et passionné en matière sucre a été quasi complet pour expliquer le chemin parcouru par Altéo pour briller et recevoir sa certification de BONSUCRO.  Une certification qui en somme, se veut être une reconnaissance internationale qui met surtout en exergue la nature durable de la production de sucre de ce géant agricole de l’Est.

Le ministre qui conseille a tenu toutefois à présenter ses plus vives félicitations à toute l’équipe d’Altéo pour avoir réussi à se faire davantage respectée. « C’est une reconnaissance légitime pour tout le travail bien fait et c’est tout à votre honneur. » Il parlera principalement de l’importance des certifications pour les entreprises tout en souhaitant que «  Altéo donne l’exemple et sert de modèle aux autres planteurs du pays en ajoutant aussi que ce serait encore mieux si l’industrie sucrière soit entièrement certifiée » avant que le Dr Autrey ne procède à la remise du certificat au CEO d’Altéo.

Pour revenir au discours du Dr Autrey, il aura été hors pair prouvant du coup, que lorsqu’on parle de la canne, il demeure une véritable encyclopédie. L’homme, grand passionné et fin connaisseur dans son domaine, a tenu à remettre la machine à remonter le temps en marche pour conter – à la faveur d’un dossier sur PowerPoint fort bien travaillé – l’histoire du sucre, de ses origines, son parcours, son développement et comment il a permis aux nombreux pays qui cultivent la canne à sucre de réussir. Il est allé en profondeur pour raconter l’histoire de la canne à sucre à Maurice qui date de 383 longues années dans les moindres détails. « Today, we are witnessing a new step on its road to progress. It is a great day for the Altéo Group and also for the sugarcane industry in Mauritius and beyond its shores in Africa” devait-il faire ressortir. Son discours a été tellement impressionnant qu’avec sa permission, nous pouvons vous permettre de le lire et le comprendre dans son intégralité. Notons que le CEO d’Altéo s’est aussi adressé à l’assistance pour l’occasion.

Le CEO d’Altéo, Fabien de Marassé Enouf reconnaissant envers les efforts du gouvernement

M. de Marassé Esnouf

M. Esnouf a fait remarquer que la certification d’Altéo par BONSUCRO constituait un jalon important pour le groupe et rejaillit à la fois sur l’industrie de la canne à sucre, dans la région et à Maurice. « Nous sommes fiers d’être un des rares pays de la région à avoir obtenu la certification qui constitue un succès pour tout le monde à Altéo. » Il a aussi expliqué que l’industrie cannière se porte mieux et a tenu à exprimer ses vives gratitudes envers le gouvernement pour les efforts faits, l’aide et le soutien qu’il apporte à cette vaste industrie. « Nous avons mis en place un ambitieux programme de mécanisation, tout en produisant des sucres spéciaux. Le gouvernement a permis l’ouverture de deux marchés, notamment l’Inde et la Chine pour nos sucres spéciaux et cela aide énormément » a-t-il soutenu. Il a aussi effleuré la production d’énergie électrique à travers les end products de la canne à sucre tout en annonçant que le travail se fait pour atteindre l’objectif de zéro charbon en 2030. « C’est un projet ambitieux mais courageux et nous nous donnons les moyens pour réussir. Je crois dans le potentiel et l’avenir de notre industrie cannière » devait-il conclure non sans expliquer que c’est un travail de longue haleine entrepris par toute une équipe qui aujourd’hui porte ses fruits.

LE DISCOURS DU DR JEAN CLAUDE AUTREY

Le Dr Autrey prononçant son discours

Chairperson of Board of Directors of Bonsucro

The Honorable Maneesh Gobin, Attorney General & Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security

Mr. Fabien de Marassé Enouf, CEO Alteo Group

Mr. Satish Purmessur, CEO Mauritius Cane Industry Authority

Mr. Devesh Dhukira, CEO Mauritius Sugar Syndicate

Ladies and Gentlemen

Dear Colleagues

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Bonsucro Ltd, its Management and its staff particularly its Regional Director for Africa, I would like to wish you a very warm, I would say given the circumstances, a very sweet welcome to this afternoon’s function. Thank you for taking time to be with us on this important event in spite of the fact that it is Good Friday and that you may have other priorities to attend to.

I would like at the outset to put today’s event in the broad content of the sugarcane world resorting to a few slides which will make my address more lively and possibly more interesting.

Our sugar now sugarcane industry has known many significant events since cane introduction 383 years ago in 1639. Today we are witnessing a new step on its road to progress. It is a great day for the Alteo Group and also for the sugarcane industry in Mauritius and beyond its shores in Africa.

In today’s world, sustainability has become an increasingly urgent challenge to address. If we look at the wider context of the world we become conscious of the daunting societal issues that we have to resolve. First, at the level of the planet the issues are: climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution by plastics and other sources, loss of biodiversity, overexploitation of water sources, change in weather pattern with severe drought, intense floods and storms of greater magnitude, just to name a few.

At the level of world population, the gap between rich and poor is increasing, human rights are disregarded, modern slavery and people trafficking are realities that we have to count with.

In such a context is there a ray of hope for mankind? The answer is YES, if we take into account various initiatives such as those to fulfil the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the actions that are being implemented following the Paris and other Conferences, the latest one being COP 26 in Glasgow last year on climate change, which have raised awareness to the urgent need for action to be taken to combat global warming. There are also other actions concerning fight for human rights, gender equality, women empowerment, child abuse and child labour, etc.

Sugar cane itself represents a ray of hope as it provides food, clean renewable energy in the form of electricity and biofuel and the potential of the derivatives from its imposing biomass. It is a net sequester of carbon dioxide which is of great value to combat GHG emissions. Its large expanses have a cooling effect, thus addressing Global Warming. It provides direct and indirect employment. It controls erosion, offers greenery for tourism, etc. thereby fulfilling its recognized multifunctional role. A recent study by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan from Thailand has shown that sugar cane is involved in 16 of the 17 SDGs. Thus we have a very versatile tool to take advantage of, for solving quite a few of our problems.

Following a meeting held in London in 2005 entitled “Better Sugar Better Business” a group of visionary leaders decided to gather energy and resources to create a credible multi-stakeholder organisation for better sugar cane. Thus the Better Sugar Initiative or BSI was created and we are proud to have been associated with it since its very first meeting in 2006 in London. It was officially incorporated in 2008.

In its 16 years of existence we may recognize three evolutionary steps as follows:

  1. 2005-2010 – The Better Sugar Initiative focused on creating a global, objective performance standard for everything that mattered about producing sugarcane and its primary derived products.
  2. 2011-2015 — The Certification Scheme was launched in 2011 under a new brand name of Bonsucro given that the famous British Standards Institute contested that BSI could not be used as an acronym thus Bonsucro became on the scene. Bonsucro for the next four years demonstrated the ability to manage and maintain both the framework behind the Standard as well as a credible third party certification.

A few words about the Production Standard which is at the heart of everything Bonsucro does against which Alteo is being certified today. It a comprehensive metric standard for sustainable farming and milling of sugarcane. The Bonsucro Production Standard is the most globally adopted performance framework for sugarcane. It is comprised of 6 key principles, 20 criteria and 72 indicators — 38 of which are core indicators. It sets out a definition of what sustainable sugarcane production should look like, providing a comprehensive metric tool for sustainable farming and milling.

The Production Standard for Smallholders: a comprehensive metric standard for sustainable farming that facilitates data collection for smallholder farmers. These are farmers with less than 25 hectares of land.

3. The third phase 2016 onwards — Bonsucro responding to stakeholders and recognising significant shifts in industry and development thinking about role of certification and standards organisations coming on the scene, Bonsucro repositioned itself to become the global change platform for sugarcane.

Mention should be made of the Chain of Custody Standard which ensures the traceability of sustainability along the supply chain from the farm to the end user.

Today Bonsucro is a company limited by guarantee based in London with regional offices in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia.

Its governance components are:

The Board of Directors of seven members, which I have the honour to chair and has representatives from Australia, Brazil, Germany, South Africa and USA. The Technical Advisory Board for science, technology and social matters.

The Members’ Council representing each of five classes of membership, namely: farmers, millers, intermediary, end users and civil society.

Bonsucro’s vision is a sugarcane sector with thriving, sustainable producer communities and resilient, assured supply chains. Our mission is to ensure that responsible sugarcane production creates lasting value for the people, communities, businesses, economies and eco-systems in all cane-growing origins. Bonsucro’s strategy translates into a platform to accelerate change for the largest agricultural commodity in the world which sugarcane is.

Bonsucro has 280 members from more than 50 countries including from the largest producers like Brazil, India, China, Thailand, Australia and the largest buyers of sugar such as Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Pernod Ricard, Ferrero, Mars, etc.

The road to sustainable success is not an easy one as it requires leadership, management commitment, support and resources. By creating locally relevant programmes that aim at creating impact, Bonsucro fosters knowledge, tools and solutions that accelerate change to the benefit of all concerned.

But what has been the impact of the first Production Standard?

According to objectively collected data it has been demonstrated that the Production Standard has had significant impact in sugarcane production which may be summarized as follows:

  • Farmers who have been continuously certified for several years have implemented practices that reduce their emissions
  • Water use per tonne of cane harvested decreases over consecutive years of certification
  • Operators see a 50% reduction in water use after six years of certification
  • Over the years of certification, operators and workers experience a sharp fall in accidents of up to 74%
  • At a global level, certified producers paid workers 14% above the minimum wage at farm level and 19% at mill level

Launch of the New Production Standard

After a two-year development process, the new Bonsucro Production Standard was finalised and approved by the Board of Directors in December 2021, and formally launched January 2022.

Bonsucro’s certified farmers and millers have achieved a lot since the last Production Standard was published in 2011 as mentioned earlier. Bonsucro wanted to build on this success to have an even bigger impact in the next five years. The new Production Standard was developed by a Working Group of independent experts and with inputs from members and stakeholders through a transparent and participatory consultation process.

This thorough revision ensures the Standard is a tool for farmers and millers to meet current social and environmental challenges, as well as expected challenges in the future, such as those generated by climate change.

The new Standard is progressive and keeps Bonsucro at the forefront of sustainability in sugarcane and agriculture.

The obiectives of the new Standard are:

  • Promote climate change resilience
  • Improve working conditions and welfare
  • Expand due diligence
  • Develop management systems
  • Streamline the auditing process

Bonsucro has also developed a 5 Year Strateqic Plan for the period 2021-2026

The Strategic Plan builds on the achievements and progress of recent years, blends experience with new approaches, recognises where it needs to do better, and sets an agenda for continuous improvement based on rigorous monitoring, evaluation and learning.

The New Standard is centred on three key pillars which are:

  1. Create value in the supply chain
  2. Improve the environmental impact of sugarcane
  3. Strengthen human rights and decent work

The Standard supports the strategy by:

                      Driving performance improvement

        Demonstrating sustainability

        Providing data and insights to support development of other activities

Another important step has been the setting up of the Bonsucro Impact Fund. This Fund supports projects that address critical sustainability challenges in the sugarcane sector. Using income from the Bonsucro Credit Trading Platform, the Fund offers our Bonsucro members the chance to apply for thematic grants for initiatives and projects that catalyse sustainable sugarcane production. We hope that there will be many projects from Mauritius in the coming years that will be supported by our Impact Fund.

Honourable Minister, Mr. CEO, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is fair to recognise that the sugarcane sector has seriously evolved since 2005 when the first discussion around sustainable sugarcane happened. The first ever Bonsucro certification in 2011 in Brazil of Maracai mill of the huge Raizen Group, was the starting point of a demonstrable commitment and achievement by the sugarcane sector toward sustainability. As of today, 150 mills have been certified and their supply area and farmers have also achieved certification, 109 of these mills are in Latin America with 78 in Brazil while the remaining 39 are location in Asia/Pacific region namely Australia, China, India and Thailand.

And now for the second time in Africa a sugar cane complex Alteo has achieved certification for its milling and part of its agricultural activities. For Bonsucro and the sustainability movement, Alteo has set a new milestone. Mr. Fabien de Marassé Enouf, you and your colleagues have every reason to be proud this afternoon. Your commitment, dedication, passion, enthusiasm and hardworking abilities are the reasons behind your success which paves the way of the African sugarcane sector towards sustainability. It is useful to recall that the first discussions took place between Alteo and Bonsucro in June 2017 and Alteo became a member of Bonsucro six months later. During the following years, Alteo followed all the procedures and undertook all the necessary works which led to its final audit in November 2021 which led to this afternoon’s Certification Award Ceremony.

In 201 7, we expressed the wish through discussions with Government and producers that the whole area under sugar cane in Mauritius and all its factories become Bonsucro Certified. Two of our three mills are now certified and let us hope in a foreseeable future the whole sugar cane area will be certified which would provide Mauritius with an edge over its competitors through its enhanced competitiveness. The inclusion of a financial incentive by the Government of Mauritius in the 2021-2022 Budget to the effect that a 50% refund on the costs related to certification, testing and accreditation with a view to achieving standards such as Bonsucro should certainly entice our producers to become Bonsucro Certified.

Bonsucro encourages its members and stakeholder to unite their efforts to ensure success in their undertakings. We foster sustainability not only for our clients, but also for ourselves, for our communities, our employees, our subcontractors, our business partners, our financiers and shareholders at large.

To further reward producers who are making a difference, Bonsucro has launched in 2019 the Bonsucro Credit Platform, a revolutionary tool that connects buyers and producers, accelerating transformation of the sugarcane sector through sustainable trade. Credits reward Bonsucro Certified Mills and Farms for their commitment to sustainability and a portion of fees from Bonsucro Credit sales are invested directly in local impact initiatives for other mills and farms to adopt more sustainable practices.

Alteo has succeeded through its commitments to deliver change. It deserves our warmest congratulations. Alteo should share its success story and evaluation of impact experienced during and after certification, thus assuming a leadership role and becoming an active promoter of sustainability. It should continue to expand its cope of certification, especially towards smallholder suppliers through its active engagement with Bonsucro’s Smallholders Standard, thereby developing and sharing solution for implementing sustainable practices at smallholder level.

This has even more meaning when one becomes conscious that all the major sugar buyers have pledged that as from 2020 they will outsource their sugar from certified producers committed to sustainability.

Honourable Minister, Mr. CEO, Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to end my address here this afternoon with the famous saying of Dr Kary Mullis, the Noble Prize Winner in Chemistry for his invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR which is now a household word with COVID-19 pandemic.

I quote: “There is a very important rule in evolution. Don’t trouble yourself with details that do not matter for survival. Whoever can do something more efficiently, survives.” Unquote to paraphrase Dr. Kary Mullis we will say Whoever does something more sustainably survives.

In conclusion, sugarcane should be considered as a crop with a bright future on account of its versatile biomass, making of it the biofactory with the highest potential among the industrial crops. Sugar industries can also take advantage in the longer term of a wealth of opportunities for value adding with advancements in molecular biology technologies and the development of the bio-refinery concept to commercialization. Stakeholders should be optimistic about the medium to long-term future of the sugarcane industry the more so that the price of sugar and the derivatives is on the increase. Honourable Minister, Mr. CEO, Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for your attention

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