| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Dozens of small and medium-scale
farmers in Brazil's Sao Paulo state will grow sugar cane
certified as meeting strict social and environmental standards,
the region's cane producers association said late on Thursday.
Several ethanol companies like Cosan and Louis Dreyfus
signed deals to produce and export verified sustainable ethanol
in the last couple of months to address consumers' concerns
over the impact of ethanol which powers almost all the
country's new cars.
But now some of the state's small producers in the world's
top sugar cane producer will be able to join them.
"We want to have a product with total traceability, from
cane seeding to the final product. We believe there's a market
for this kind of product, especially in Europe," said Fernando
Cesar Gregorio, head of the Bariri Sugarcane Suppliers
The sustainability of Brazil's cane-based ethanol has been
called into question by Europe, which is likely to demand
stricter environmental and labor standards on imports.
The program will have 50 small and medium-scale cane
suppliers who farm up to 3,500 hectares and produce an
estimated 260,000 tonnes of cane per year. Some of them are
They must refuse the use of child or slave labor, limit
their use of agrochemicals, and gather their cane with
mechanical harvesters as opposed to cutting it manually. Manual
cutting involves burning the plant's foliage, which pollutes
Production standards, which will come into force on August
30, were set by Organizacao Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA), a
private company which provides inspection and certification
All of the cane supplied under the plan will be crushed at
the Dela Colletta mill which will also produce according to
these standards. The entire process will be audited by an
Some of the requirements -- many of them set by law -- are
already observed by these producers, but they want to certify
"they are doing it right," Gregorio said.
Jose Carlos Reis, agroenergy coordinator at Sebrae, a
consultancy for small and medium firms which will provide
technical assistance to the growers, said this was the first
time small-scale growers were offered the chance to join an
environmental and social certification program.
The program also encourages alternating the planting of
cane with grain to boost food production and avoid problems
associated with monoculture, which can exhaust soil fertility.
"Many people say sugar and ethanol are only for large-scale
producers, and we're showing this is not true. These are small
suppliers who are organized and looking ahead," Reis said.
Gregorio added no deal had yet been clinched with any
foreign importers, but he said certified biofuel was likely to
attract a premium as it would be more marketable.
(Editing by Reese Ewing and Jim Marshall)