economic: building rural economies

Sustainability 12

how we help to build sustainable agricultural and rural economies

Sustainability 13

Economic Case Study

12 December 2016

Embedding Sustainable Agriculture in China

Embedding Sustainable Agriculture in China


Although the nature of our activities is different from country to country, the focus of our efforts has always been the same: to produce sugar as efficiently and responsibly as possible, using the minimum amount of energy and water, and creating as little waste as we can. Improving yield, creating more from less for farmers, and developing robust and productive crops year-on-year is crucial to sustainable agriculture.

What we did

AB Sugar China’s ‘Sustainable Agriculture Programme’ launched in March 2014 and includes the commitment to increase productivity, embrace conservation and improve lives. The programme has a target to double sugar beet yields in all operating regions by 2030 compared to a base year of 2000. These yield gains will come from a combination of advanced plant varieties and improved farm-management practices. Success depends on innovation as well as applying a new business grower-centric model that encourages and rewards hard work and dedication.

In addition, AB Sugar China strongly encourages growers to undertake soil tests and match their applications to the needs of their crop. The company uses demonstration trial plots to educate growers that reduced fertiliser applications are not detrimental to crop quality or final yield whilst reducing the overall cost of production and environmental risk.


The support AB Sugar China has provided growers to deliver increasingly sustainable agriculture has had a demonstrably positive impact. The commitment from the yield improvement initiatives is simple yet significant; to develop technologies and solutions that enable farmers to get more from every area of farmland to increase profit. The goal is to now increase average beet yield so today's best becomes 2020's average.

As one beet grower, Gao Zhan, commented:

The [AB Sugar China] staff from Zhangbei have been really great; they worked with me to make a growing plan and helped me estimate my costs and profitability. All season I have received regular contact with my area manager from the factory, with us normally meeting at least twice a week. My yields have been in line with the original plan and met my expectation. The service and guidance has been much appreciated and I plan to increase my growing area next year by 30%”.

Going forward, AB Sugar China will continue to develop new channels for grower communication using innovative marketing techniques. This will include the launch of bespoke digital and social applications as well as the continued use of the ‘WeChat’ social communication platform to a wider grower audience. The aim of this is to ultimately achieve greater customer service, support growers to overcome challenges and offer advice on agronomy to help achieve strong productivity and returns. 

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