The PanameriCaña programme from Solidaridad improves sugarcane production through sustainable agricultural practices, improvements in harvest and processing, and connected communities. Across Mexico and Central America, smallholder farmers and large sugar mills are putting our practical training and usable technology to work. Learn how in this article from Programme Manager Carlos García Valdez.

training sugarcane farmers in Mexico

PanameriCaña’s multi-disciplinary team is highly experienced in sugarcane production and harvesting in Latin America.

The PanameriCaña initiative from Solidaridad develops meaningful solutions to problems in sugarcane production, harvest, and industrialization in Latin America. It provides technical support to generate changes in agricultural and industrial practices, while connecting all of the sector stakeholders to reduce the impact of their operations on local communities.

Supporting the Entire Value Chain

PanameriCaña supports every level of the value chain with consulting and assistance services, including:

  • Innovation and Technology: We deploy digital tools to help sugarcane smallholders diagnose production challenges and social issues.
  • Strategic Analysis: We develop and prioritize improvement plans based on productivity, environmental, and social needs.
  • Capacity Building: We create theoretical and practical training plans with sugarcane farmers and use demonstration plots to provide hands-on training in better practices.
  • Decent Work and Responsible Recruitment: We develop tools and training plans that promote occupational health and safety for workers along with responsible recruitment that respects labour rights and requirements.
  • Conservation of Natural Resources: We promote the protection of soil, water, air, and biodiversity through integrated crop management systems that reduce negative impacts and enhance positive ones.

MAS-CAÑA: A Sugarcane Agriculture Improvement Programme

We have trained more than 16,000 sugar cane producers in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

PanameriCaña also offers MAS-CAÑA, a three-year programme that provides assistance, personalized technical advice, and follow-up to sugarcane farmers, who are members of the sugar mills’ growers’ associations. MAS-CAÑA provides:

  • Training programmes for smallholders with priority topics that impact the sustainable productivity of the crop,
  • Technical assistance and field visits by technicians who analyze the crop conditions and producer knowledge to better support the producer with insights on best practices. 
  • Demonstration plots that can be used to encourage community-wide good practices that help growers obtain the desired results.
  • Exchanges where producers share the results of good practices on their property with others to learn together.

Training Courses and Workshops

Small sugarcane producers discuss weed control at a demonstration of the MAS-CAÑA programme
Small sugarcane producers discuss weed control at a demonstration of the MAS-CAÑA programme

PanameriCaña and MAS-CAÑA offer training in efficient, profitable, and sustainable production practices to farmers, technicians in sugar mills and growers’ associations, and the sons and daughters of smallholders. By offering workshops and courses to such a wide variety of stakeholders, we support generational change that embeds sustainable practices into the future.

Other education initiatives include face-to-face workshops where we train technicians and farmers on topics that improve their agricultural practices

Workshops topics include:

  • Effective integrated weed management
  • Sugarcane nutrition and fertilization techniques
  • Effective irrigation to produce more sugarcane
  • Integrated sugarcane pest management
  • Technical soil preparation for sugarcane planting
  • Seedbed management and efficient planting methods
  • Occupational health and safety in sugarcane production and harvesting.

Better Practices to Grow Sustainable Mills

One of PanameriCaña’s basic commitments is to support the entire sector; that includes helping sugar mills to develop sustainability goals and encouraging certification to global standards. We work alongside sugar mills’ staff to create detailed improvement plans and utilize key management indicators to bolster internal development.

PanameriCaña also provides training to mills in sustainable processing methods.

This means working with internal staff on the requirements and the evidence needed to support a certification audit. Diagnostic tools help to identify opportunities for improvement that support implementation of Bonsucro sustainability standards and Coca-Cola’s Sustainable Agriculture Principles (SAGP).

The PanameriCaña initiative also supports the development and implementation of occupational health and safety plans, environmental management plans, and  work procedures and instructions for internal and external communication.

With PanameriCaña, we are confident that we are moving forward on the right path to transfer good, sustainable agricultural practices to sugar mills, smallholders, and technicians in the sugar sector.

Carlos Garcia Valdez, PanameriCaña Programme Manager, Solidaridad Latin America

Article originally published in Spanish on LinkedIn.