GANSO: When the development of good practices and sustainable technologies reaches consumers

Grupo Éxito opened a new  supermarket in Bogotá, Carulla FreshMarket 140, a commitment to inclusion, sustainability, innovation, and the shopping experience. There, consumers will be able to find products from cattle ranches that are committed to sustainability, with the support of GANSO, (the Spanish acronym for Sustainable Livestock), a technical and financial assistance center seeking to support and professionalize livestock farming in the country. GANSO is led by Climate Focus and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT.

By Jose Luis Urrea

Combining efforts: innovative business models, scientists developing sustainable technologies, producers committed to implementing good practices, and the support of consumers with their purchases is certainly the way towards the solutions needed to safeguard the planet.

During the last decades, science has not stopped warning us of the mounting effects of continuing to operate with unsustainable production and consumption patterns: depletion of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, and climate change are just some of the most visible impacts. But the work of science goes beyond announcing future losses, and it consists mainly of thinking today how we can mitigate the environmental impacts generated by production systems.

One of the production sectors that has had impacts on climate change, while being affected by it, is the livestock sector. In countries such as Colombia, livestock has traditionally been practiced extensively, expanding grazing areas that degrade soils and, in many cases, at the expense of forests. Livestock production in Colombia has great potential to improve its efficiency, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to the restoration of landscapes, the sequestration of carbon, and the conservation of biodiversity.

Jacobo Arango, scientist of the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), points out that “At the Alliance, we are committed to being part of the solution, generating and promoting technologies able to improve tropical livestock production, which in turn can provide environmental benefits. Having our Headquarters in Colombia encourages us even more, as we are able to apply them in our country; therefore, we also look for the mechanisms that allow us to take these technologies to the places where they are actually needed.”

Based on this premise, the Alliance, along with Climate Focus , set up an innovative approach: GANSO (the Spanish acronym for Sustainable Livestock), a technical and financial assistance center seeking to support and professionalize livestock farming in the regions with the most potential in Colombia, facilitating planning and ensuring funding for livestock producers to access a much needed incentive to commit to sustainability. This way, technical and financing gaps are bridged with tailor-made solutions for each farm, focusing on the adoption of good agricultural practices. From its start in 2015, GANSO has supported Colombian livestock producers who are committed to sustainability and the conservation of the environment for future generations.

Consumers, the key link in the chain. The work of this initiative is just getting started, since the final consumer plays a fundamental role, which consists of knowing and choosing sustainable products that protect forests and biodiversity. To this end, the GANSO Sustainability Certification provides a tool for livestock producers and companies that would like to have their production assessed, and start a continuous improvement process in their production methods, acknowledged by consumers who support those committed to sustainability, which is a growing trend.

GANSO Certification:

The GANSO Certification evaluates a set of 50 sustainable production practices, grouped in four pillars: Environment (reduction of emissions, protection of biodiversity, and minimum pressure over ecosystems); People (dignified, fair, and safe working conditions for laborers; healthy environments for them and their families); Animals (wellbeing and health), and Management (farm management plans, implementation of such plans, and assessment of continuous improvement).

This is a voluntary assessment and it allows producers to reach three levels: Motivated, Committed, and Responsible; each one in that order indicates a higher level of commitment to comply with sustainable practices.

The GANSO Guarantee

According to Jhon Freddy Gutiérrez, Manager for GANSO, “The Certification is a tool that draws a clear route towards sustainability, while recognizing the effort of livestock companies.”

Simón Martínez, a producer from the department of Córdoba, who has received the GANSO Certification, states: “When we received support to assess our production system, we found a significant scientific base in the feedback received and the specific points to improve. For us, being granted the GANSO Certification is a recognition to the work we have been committed to for many years.”

Efforts are bearing fruit, and thus we welcome the fact that companies, such as Grupo Éxito, support this initiative opening in Bogotá the Carulla FreshMarket 140, a commitment to inclusion, sustainability, innovation, and the shopping experience. In this supermarket, consumers will be able to find meat that has been subject to audits on sustainable practices. Providers who meet the requirements will be certified with the GANSO seal, which means they are committed to the conservation of the Colombian natural ecosystems.

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