A practical approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Published: 15 July 2020

CSR covers the ethical and moral obligations of a business (farm or nonfarm) concerning the environment, its employees, the local community, competitors, the economy and any other factors that its business operations impact. CSR is an integral component of sustainable agriculture, which, among many other definitions, has been defined as progress with respect to four goals:

  1. Producing enough to satisfy human needs
  2. Enhancing environmental quality and protecting the natural resource base
  3. Being profitable
  4. Increasing the quality of life for farmers, farm workers, and society as a whole.

It is clear from this definition that sustainable agriculture is actually not feasible without the active implementation of CSR.

CSR has many benefits

In terms of Large Scale Farming (LSF) there is much to be gained from the development of a realistic and practical CSR strategy, which is then integrated into your farm business operations. Targeting optimal long-term profits through wise resource management, rather than aiming for short term profit maximization which rapidly diminishes the available natural resources and harms the ecosystem, will benefit the environment, the community and your farm business, both economically and by resource enhancement. Your marketing activities may benefit as more organisations join the growing trend towards extending the ‘bottom line’ (economic return) to include environmental and social performance too. Companies frequently support suppliers who have effective CSR policies, since this can influence how their own clients see them. Some clients not only favour dealing with socially responsible companies; they demand it.

The use of costly inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides will be reduced through appropriate, targeted optimal application. Effective water management and an overall reduction of resource use, waste and emissions, will help the environment and save you money too.

If LSF is regarded as an approach to developing an area, which is how it should be viewed and which is the way governments are starting to focus their approach, rather than treating it as just the development of your own large farm, further benefits will materialize. There will be communities within the farm area, and these should be integrated into the project as much as is realistic and useful; e.g. local knowledge and a local labour supply. Too often the villages are ignored or left in isolation. Any LSF development is going to need labour and the local labour needs work. Working together with the local people will benefit both them and your farm. Integrating them into the project, providing training to develop their skills both for your project and elsewhere (you cannot employ them all) as well as training them to develop their community management, will bring a sense of ‘community team’ (the project and their village), improve their living standards and go a long way to reducing the pilfering and vandalism that often occurs when villages are not integrated and managed as part of the LSF development.

The FGM Approach to CSR

FGM International works together with each client as its support partner in terms of developing and managing any LSF project. FGM facilitates the client to develop and manage their project on a long-term, sustainable, profitable basis incorporating practical implementation of CSR to ensure that the best interests of all parties, including those of the local communities, are served and that the principles of sustainable farming are implemented.

Some examples

  1. While implementing a project the environment is considered as a valuable asset to be sustained instead of a “single-use” product
  2. Minimum Effective Water Usage Technique (MEWUT) is implemented. Also, when possible, the local population is assisted to access water
  3. Input usage; e.g. fertilizer & pesticide, is calculated and accurately applied for the precise requirements of the crops, thus reducing pollution through over application and giving economic benefits to the business.
  4. The local population is integrated (as is feasible and realistic) into the project’s development, providing opportunities to work as labour and/or to benefit from training
  5. Potential production losses; e.g. when production does not meet the target level of quality, are donated to the local population instead of being destroyed
  6. The FGM website is optimized to reduce energy use and carbon emission.

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