Soy in Bolivia ©2010CIAT/NeilPalmer

SoyChaco | A pilot project to support responsible production and nature conservation in the Argentine Chaco

With “SoyChaco”, IUCN NL has embarked upon a partnership with the NGOs Solidaridad and Fundacion Vida Silvestre, 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. Other companies are joining the project as well, including Waitrose in the United Kingdom and other European buyers. 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.

Header photo by: ©2010CIAT/NeilPalmer

Soy Chaco is a collaborative project designed to promote conversion free responsible soy production in a risk area. It does so by (1) matching 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, (3) promoting additional nature conservation and restoration, and (4) building up a base for deforestation and conversion free responsible soy to Europe and everywhere over time.  

Responsible soy production in the Chaco

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 drought, 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 seek to use Dutch market leverage to support positive solutions to responsible farming and nature protection and restoration in the Argentine Chaco. 

Conservation risk areas

For the project partners it is crucial that downstream players such as supermarkets, brands and sector organizations do not 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 value chain with positive effect in the field on nature and on people.

Therefore it is important to keep up the actual support of the Dutch dairy and many others 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 and restoration in a landscape plan. 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 European trade and dairy, and last but not least the global collective learning journey towards conversion free responsible production with landscape impact.

Watch the video about SoyChaco

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