“Producing more sustainable soy is the future of our company”
“We’ve wanted to become a certified producer for a long time and today the dream has become a reality,” says Leni Tomásia (47) from Silvânia in Goiás. Together with the Trias NGO and the local credit cooperative Cresol, we have helped her and about thirty other Brazilian soy farmers from 2017 until 2019 to meet the international standard for responsible soy production from the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). Leni’s ambition? “To continue to work with my family in a sustainable company, which complies fully with the rules. And that we become an example for other producers who join this project.”
If you want to be recognised as a sustainable farmer on the international soy market and get a better price, then RTRS certification is vital. “But that’s not so easy for a small family company like ours,” explains Leni. “The rules are a maze and there are so many criteria to take into account. You need someone who knows about the certification process. Thanks to the Trias/Cresol project, we got help with the administration, and technical advisers guided us in making the necessary adjustments to the company step by step. All in a way that was feasible, safe and efficient for us, of course.”
How do you start soy cultivation?
Leni: “Actually, we first started by growing organic vegetables. But in 2009, my husband and I decided to switch to soy cultivation, because in our region it sells more easily. We started with 1 tractor and an 8-line seed drill on a 25 hectare plot, which we rented from my parents. We made a small profit and rented more land. Today, we have 290 hectares under cultivation and through Cresol, amongst others, we have been given credit to buy more seed and machinery, and we’ve also built a warehouse. From the outset, we’ve been careful to use our land responsibly, respect biodiversity and buy pesticides, which are less harmful to the environment.”
I’m very happy that my family can live comfortably and that we can pay off our loans.
What changes were needed to obtain RTRS certification?
Leni: “In addition to a number of improvements in the general management of the company, we focused mainly on the safer storage of pesticides and diesel oil. So we installed impervious concrete slabs under the tanks to protect the soil. Thanks to the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) or integrated crop protection, we also learned to use far fewer chemical products. By doing as much crop rotation as possible, we can prevent the crops from getting diseased. And if there is a problem, we first see if we can use biological or mechanical means to tackle the infestation. Such as killing insects by using their natural enemies for example.”
And do you see the results of those changes?
Leni: “Definitely! We’ve been able to reduce the amount of pesticides significantly and, by applying more efficient working methods, we now have a greater yield per hectare. But what I’m most proud of is that my family’s quality of life is improving further. Thanks to the sale of our sustainability certificates, I can assure them of a more secure future. And that puts my mind at rest.”
RTRS certification is something we wanted for a long time, but we needed guidance.
What is your dream for the future, Leni?
Leni: “I’m pleased that, through the RTRS project, I was able to contribute to a more sustainable economy with more respect for the environment and the people involved. I want to be an example to others who want to produce responsibly. In addition, I hope that we can meet all our financial obligations and that my family and I can farm here happily and healthily for a long time to come.”
I wish you all the best!
Sustainable cattle feed, sustainable meat
Working on more sustainable soy cultivation is important for a more sustainable meat industry. South American soybean meal is the main protein source in cattle fodder. And our meat farmers and suppliers also need a lot of it. Discover what else we’re doing to make cattle fodder more sustainable.Read more
Name: Leni Tomásia De Sousa
Function: Soy producer
wife of Joval (48) and mother to Maria Luísa (10) and Ana Paula (7)
Studies? • Agriculture in Goiânia
Previous experience? • Before I started soy farming, I was active in organic farming (IBD certification).
Help on the farm? • My parents still help with the sowing and the harvest, as do my brother and my husband Joval.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.