#SustyTalk: McCain Foods’ Jess McGhie on regenerative agriculture

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#SustyTalk is all about keeping edie’s loyal readers connected to sustainability leaders across the world, whilst reminding us all that sustainability and climate action must go on through the current Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. It launched in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 and has continued since then, keeping us connected to the leaders who are continuing to drive sustainability and climate action.

For this latest #SustyTalk episode, edie’s senior reporter Sarah George is in conversation with McCain Foods’ senior global sustainability manager Jess McGhie.

Almost two years ago, McCain committed to implementing regenerative agricultural practices across 100% of its global potato acreage. Regenerative practices are those that help to improve soil quality and boost biodiversity, often while also reducing inputs such as water and fertiliser.

McGhie is on hand to provide a picture of progress so far, behind-the-scenes, including the creation of pilot projects in Canada and South Africa.

She says: “I think one of the biggest challenges is the fact that regenerative practices will vary depending on the geography, the climate, the soil – even field to field…. It’s definitely not a case of ‘one size fits all’. It’s also not a case of telling the farmer what to do. They know their land and their soil better than anyone, and many are already on this journey – so it’s about supporting them where they are at, giving them the right tools and knowledge to establish what is going to work best for them.”

McGhie also discusses the need for partnerships and for policy engagement to rapidly scale regenerative agriculture across not only potatoes, but other key crops. The Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Agribusiness Taskforce, of which McCain is a member, estimates that the proportion of the world’s agricultural land adopting regenerative practices is increasing at a rate of just 0.6% each year. Far more rapid deployment is needed to align farming with the Paris Agreement.

Click here to see our catalogue of #SustyTalk interviews

Want to be featured on a future episode of #SustyTalk? Email [email protected]. Please bear in mind that our interview calendar is typically booked several weeks in advance. 

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