Sustainable corn for China 

Cargill teaches best practices to farmers in a vital ecosystem 

March 13, 2014

Home to the endangered Amur tiger and leopard, as well as a number of imperiled crane species, Northeast China’s Jilin province is considered a priority eco-region for the World Wild Life Fund (WWF).

The region near Jilin’s city of Songyuan is also one of the largest corn-growing areas in China, producing about 17 million tons of corn per year. Yet corn yields in Songyuan are not reaching their full potential and input inefficiencies are high, resulting in excess water use, agricultural runoff and greenhouse gas emissions.

In response, Cargill and WWF launched a five-year plan in 2011 to boost corn production, while still reducing environmental impacts.

How are we doing it? By establishing demonstration farms in Songyuan to highlight sustainable agricultural practices for planting, tilling, harvesting, storing and selling corn. After the first year, the project achieved yield increases of 28 percent on its 10 demonstration farms, and increased the crops’ value by more than 10 percent through better storage after harvest. More than 12,500 local farmers have received free training on advanced corn-planting technology.

Last year, we chose an additional 20 demonstration sites, with the plan to reach 25,000 farmers by the end of 2014, empowering them to better protect their local habitat.