Midlands social entrepreneur, conservationist and sugarcane grower, Ant Edmonds who has recently been elected onto the Bonsucro Members’ council. Credit: Colleen Dardagan

The recent election of Midlands conservationist and sugarcane grower, Ant Edmonds onto the international Bonsucro Members’ Council, has put the ethical production of sugarcane in South Africa onto the global stage.

Edmonds, a co-founder of the South African Sugar Association’s sustainable production management tool SUSFARMS, has taken up what is an important and prestigious seat on the international platform for change’s sub committee which he says has values driven production of the commodity across the world as its priority.

“When Bonsucro recently restructured their board, a decision was taken to introduce a Members’ Council divided up into representative bodies pertaining to producers, millers, sugar traders, change agents and then end users such as Unilever, Coca Cola and Ferrero the chocolatiers. I sit on the Producer Cluster of the Council which represents farmers and millers,” Edmonds said.

Headquartered in London and with over 480 international members that include Shell, Nestle, MARS, Pepsico and Pernod Ricard to name a few, Bonsucro was established ten years ago.

According to its website, Bonsucro’s aim is to “support sugarcane producers and processors through the use of a global standard and by sharing knowledge to enable the industry to become more resilient, professional and environmentally sustainable”.

Edmonds, who is also a grower and passionate about driving land reform in the country, said he could now push the SUSFARMS agenda internationally.

“I felt we had to be represented there to get international recognition for the incredible work that is being done here. I want to sit on the council until SUSFARMS, which is relevant to our social, environment and economic conditions, achieves the global recognition that it deserves.

“Also what I see as a big win for sustainability is the fact that Illovo is using the SUSFARMS tool on their miller-cum-planter farms across southern Africa.  When we become fully aligned with the Bonsucro standard and have our implementation endorsed, Susfarms will be the tool of choice for this region. Being able to promote the need to have accountability, followed by verification of how we are implementing the tool and how we are measuring accountability, will give us a fairly substantial footprint in sub-Saharan Africa. This will be a real win for environmentally and socially sustainable sugarcane farming in the region,” he said.

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