SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND TRADE
Introduction to the thematic
The course on Sustainable Production and Trade consists of two complementary paths that go to the very heart of a company’s strategic vision of companies:
social responsibility (CSR)
- The links between agriculture and health, and between agriculture and the environment.
Corporate social responsibility was born under pressure from civil society on companies to take better account of the environmental and social impacts of their activities. It involves integrating into a company the three pillars of sustainable production: economic, environmental and social. CSR also involves a dialogue with stakeholders (including customers, suppliers, employees, the State and local associations), as it recognises that companies have duties to society.
The concept of sustainability emerged as a result of the contrasts inherent in industrial agricultural production: abundant food production, but predation on the environment and an overall drop in prices offered to farmers. Industrial agriculture, practised since the 1960s in the North and more recently in several countries of the South, responded to a post-war logic of production and rapid population growth. It is a successful agricultural model that has demonstrated its ability to regularly supply the market with quality food products, and its profitability due to the control of production costs. This model has evolved and adapted to reduce its excesses. In developing countries, the approach was popularised by the ‘Green Revolution’, a policy of transforming local agriculture through the intensive use of varieties with high yield potential.
Despite its performance, intensive industrial agriculture has shown its limitations. Excessive use of inputs (fertilisers and pesticides), as well as repeated ploughing with heavy mechanical equipment, have led to degradation of soil structure and environmental pollution, particularly of groundwater and surface water.In the current context of demographic pressure and climate change, it is essential to rethink this model by introducing more sustainability into agricultural practices and turning to other modes of production and crop protection. We will see that, within their means, farmers can adopt mitigation and adaptation strategies to correct the excesses observed. By improving their production systems step by step, they can meet customer expectations and comply more easily with regulations and standards, which will facilitate their access to markets. However, these efforts only make sense within the framework of a company’s global strategic vision, validated by all stakeholders.