The water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, the mountains we climb and the sea we swim in – these things all form part of the environment that humans and millions of other species on earth live in.
Amongst the things we have to do to survive, looking after our water, air, mountains, and seas, have become more important as we emerge from the challenges we had to deal with because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Each individual, corporation, business sector, and government has a responsibility in preserving the environment, but positive change can only be achieved when working together.
SIZA enables South African agriculture to be a global leader in ethical labour and environmental sustainability. SIZA provides a platform for agricultural stakeholders to ensure ethical and environmentally sustainable trade.
This platform monitors care for the environment and compliance with labour legislation. Our aim is to encourage continuous improvement in practices over time in excess of the minimum legal requirements.
The development of sustainable business practices lends itself to efficient operations and cost savings. SIZA implemented the Environmental 2nd-Party Verification programme as part of its drive towards continuous improvement and to manage environmental risks. The Environmental 2nd-Party Verification programme therefore assists with establishing comprehensive management systems, managing risks, and improving performance across the four cornerstones of the environment:
The verification process can help farmers to manage risks related to soil degradation which will help to conserve this resource without which we cannot farm. Furthermore, the implementation of soil health improving practices can help to increase soil health over the long term.
Analysing soil and plant nutrient values will ensure that only the needed amounts of fertilisers are applied, which will reduce input costs and reduce the risks for over-fertilisation and pollution.
The verification process will assist management to remain compliant with water legislation and improve water-use efficiency (WUE).
Calculating the WUE of a crop, i.e., the amount of water used per kilogramme of crop produced, is one of the easiest ways to quantify how well water is managed.
Energy, Materials & Waste
Energy usage is one of the major contributors to climate change. The verification process will assist with identifying business activities that are energy-intensive and to implement energy conservation strategies.
The implementation of such strategies will help to combat climate change and will also reduce energy costs. Efficient waste management is not always an easy task. During the verification process, farms will receive assistance on what can be implemented on their own sites to be compliant with legislation, while also ensuring that waste is managed efficiently to reduce environmental pollution.
Everyone has a responsibility towards our environment to make sure that critical ecosystems are protected. The verification process will help to identify areas of conservation and what can be done to protect them. Prioritising areas for invasive alien plant (IAP) clearing will also form part of the verification process. The benefits of efficient IAP clearing and management includes improving water availability and reducing fire risks.
Since the implementation of the SIZA Environmental 2nd-Party Verification programme, it has already illustrated progress and successes where farmers have started to measure and monitor their inputs. This has helped them to identify areas of improvement and to be proactive in managing environmental risks. The SIZA Environmental 2nd-Party verification programme is a win-win recipe for everyone involved.