We’re pleased to announce that Saraburi Sugar Company has become the first mill to achieve certification against the Bonsucro Production Standard for Smallholder Farmers, following an audit by Cert-ID. The mill, which is found in Thailand’s Central Region, is part of Thai Roong Ruang Sugar Group (TRR Group).

TRR Group is one of Thailand’s longest established sugar milling companies and remains a leading sugar manufacturer and exporter in Thailand. The group owns nine sugarcane mills and produces various sugars, molasses, ethanol and bio-electricity, as well as several confectionary products.

Working with the Smallholder Standard to improve farming

TRR Group & Saraburi Sugar Company staff with Bonsucro's Rick Lyu Photo: Joe Woodruff/Bonsucro

Becoming the first certified mill using the Bonsucro Production Standard for Smallholder Farmers is a significant achievement. The Production Standard for Smallholders Farmers, adopted in May 2018, is an adaptation of the current Bonsucro production Standard that aims to facilitate data collection for smallholder farmers without compromising in rigorousness.

According to Ms Nicha Asadatorn, Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing, Saraburi Sugar Company decided to pursue Bonsucro certification as it complements their vision for the sustainable production of sugar, and gave the mill a platform for healthy, long-term relationships with their growers and customers. Saraburi Sugar sees Bonsucro certification as an opportunity to standardise their approach to sugarcane production, through a platform that is internationally recognised. Additionally, Saraburi considers Bonsucro’s approach to sustainability as practical and accessible for their growers, and through implementing the Standard, they hope to gain increased competitiveness in the industry.

Extension worker at Saraburi. Photo: Joe Woodruff/Bonsucro

Thailand’s sugarcane sector is dominated by smallholders – 83% of growers are smallholders who produce 1 – 2,000MT of the country’s cane supply. Traditionally, smallholder businesses across the industry struggle with monitoring data and record-keeping.

Mr Techanit Onaree, Deputy manager of International Sales, explained that through the introduction of the Smallholder Standard, Saraburi’s smallholders were involved in a monitoring and record-keeping initiative that improved their businesses. The growers introduced compost and vinasse into their fertiliser regimes and used soil analyses to monitor the need for additional fertilisers “even more efficiently [which] improved productivity”.

Additionally, through the process of implementing the Standard, farmers are showing more attention to labour issues and increased interest in record-keeping practices. Through improved record-keeping the growers are becoming aware of the costs of associated with managing their farms and Saraburi has noticed that these growers are demonstrating a marked difference in reducing the cost of their production. Mr Onaree found that the Bonsucro tools were helpful in this process as they made “calculation easy and clear [so that] farmers can see what is not yet [achieved] and what should be done to achieve the goal”.

Total Corbion: a destination for Saraburi’s Bonsucro certified sugar

Corbion, another Bonsucro member, is one of the first businesses to snap up Bonsucro certified sugar from Saraburi mill via its joint venture with Total – ‘Total Corbion PLA’. The certified sugar set to be used to produce bio-based and biodegradable plastics through a lactic acid polymerisation process. The first delivery of sugar to Corbion was celebrated with teams from the mill, Corbion and Total Corbion PLA in October at the plant in Rayong, eastern Thailand.

Corbion, headquartered in Gorinchem, the Netherlands. The lactic acid polymerisation plant in Rayong was constructed as part of its 50/50 joint venture with Total – ‘Total Corbion PLA’, and along with another site in Brazil, holds a Bonsucro Chain of Custody certification.

PLA is a biobased and biodegradable plastic produced with renewable biomass feedstocks like sugarcane, offering an alternative to fossil-based plastics. Using Bonsucro certified cane sugar as a feedstock, sugar is converted to lactic acid through fermentation, which in turn is used as a base for bio-based innovations, such as PLA bioplastic pellets. PLA pellets are used in a broad range of applications, such as packaging, consumer goods and automotive components.

Next steps for Saraburi Sugar (TRR)

Saraburi Sugar Company. Photo: Joe Woodruff/Bonsucro

Saraburi is looking forward to promoting their Bonsucro certification and being recognised by their customers and partners for their production efficiency, and as a source of sustainable sugar. In the coming years Saraburi are hoping to expand their area of certified cane. They hope that their experience of certification can encourage and support other mills and growing areas to pursue sustainability goals for the Thai sugarcane industry. Saraburi would like to grow the network of Bonsucro members in Thailand and are looking forward to increased involvement of Bonsucro in their sector.

To find out more about the Thai sugarcane industry and our global network join us at Bonsucro Global Week in Bangkok, Thailand, from 11–14 March 2019.

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Photos: Joe Woodruff/Bonsucro Corbion

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