Soy in Bolivia ©2010CIAT/NeilPalmer

SoyChaco | A Dutch pilot project to add conservation value to soy sourcing in the Argentine Chaco.

With “SoyChaco” IUCN NL has embarked upon a partnership with the NGOs Solidaridad and Fundacion Vida Silvestre, Zuivel NL (the Dutch dairy sector) and a Dutch trader to have positive impact on the ground in an important soy sourcing area: the Gran Chaco in Argentina. The Gran Chaco biome – in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay- is home to species such as the jaguar, the giant armadillo and other important biodiversity, but has been threatened heavily by deforestation and conversion. Soy Chaco is a collaborative project designed to promote conversion free responsible soy production in a risk area. It does so by (1) matching (RTRS) certified producers from this area with traders and buyers interested in their sustainability efforts (2) searching additional solutions for farmers on their way to responsible production, and (3) promoting additional nature conservation and restoration.    

Header photo by: ©2010CIAT/NeilPalmer

Overall, the Gran Chaco loses around half a million ha, merely to cattle and soy production. Argentina has some 17-18 million ha dedicated to soy, most of it in the “Pampas”, and about 2,5 million ha in the Chaco. Every year around 21.500 ha in the Argentine area is deforested (around the surface of the municipality of Amsterdam) of which 4.000 ha related to soy, partly illegal. As vegetation has vanished, effects of extreme weather conditions such as draught, hail and flooding have led to failing harvests. Therefore, there are economic, social and environmental reasons to invest more in sustainable production and nature conservation in the Chaco.  Project partners in the “SoyChaco” project will further analyze and address risks in the soy value chain, while using Dutch market leverage to support positive solutions to responsible farming and nature protection and restoration in the Argentine Chaco. 

The Dutch dairy sector has been a forerunner in covering all of their use of soy in dairy feed with credits from the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), a best in class standard for soy, since 2015. While they are also working on diminishing soy use and searching for protein solutions on or nearby the dairy farms, soy still has a role in the feed of dairy cattle. For IUCN NL and Solidaridad it is crucial that downstream players such as supermarkets, brands and sector organizations do not all shy away from conversion risk areas, but rather help find solutions to sustainable production and nature conservation in and around those areas. What counts in our view is a sustainable Dutch value chain withpositive effect in the field on nature and on people.

Therefore it is important to keep up the actual support of the Dutch Dairy Chain to the implementation of RTRS, with credits, while working on (area)mass balance options, the physical value chain, and adding extra value at landscape level. This extra value means improving farmers’ practice stepping up responsible production as well as conservation & restoration. Within this pilot in the Chaco in Argentina, project partners also want to learn: What is possible with regards to certification and other alternative incentives for farmers, and how can sustainable production and conservation be upscaled here and elsewhere?

This way we hope to deliver a positive contribution to farmers and nature in the Chaco, the sustainability of Dutch trade and dairy, and the global collective learning journey towards conversion free responsible production.

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