Sustainability is good business for agriculture

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Institute for Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification (Imaflora)

This issue of Sustentabilidade em Debate brings together three studies that complement each other with the aim of answering the same question: can the adoption of good management practices for production, conservation of natural resources and working conditions be justified economically? In other words, is the adoption or pursuit of sustainability a good deal for farmers? This question stems from a mismatch between common sense and the experience of Sebrae-MG’s Educampo Program, Rabobank and Imaflora with a large number of farmers. As a rule, industry leaders argue that sustainability can be achieved as long as someone foots the bill. This statement embeds the assumption that sustainability is a cost or a competitive disadvantage. The experience of leading organizations in these studies shows otherwise. Farmers affected by programs that contribute to the implementation of sustainability initiatives have reported that investments in agricultural production based on best practices bring economic returns and make their businesses more profitable, competitive and resilient. To test whether this perception is actually true, SEBRAE, Rabobank and Imaflora joined researchers from ESALQ-USP and from the University of Oxford. Based on robust methods, the three studies analyzed large databases that contain information from dozens of farmers covered by programs designed to stimulate sustainability in several regions of Brazil either through the provision of credit, technical assistance or certification. This publication presents, in advance and in a simplified and summary form, studies in final stages of postgraduate research that will later be published in detailed academic format. 

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