Sustainability? It starts with the seed.
The world’s population is growing, the climate is changing and resources are becoming scarcer – the global challenges are substantial. Especially for the farming sector. As one of the world's leading seed specialists, we are convinced we can and must make a significant contribution toward finding solutions for sustainable farming that are also economically viable. The diverse KWS portfolio of cultivated plants has been helping to reduce the use of pesticides, fertilizers and other agricultural resources in fields for decades. At the same time, it is helping to safeguard and increase urgently needed yields. But we are not simply satisfied with the status quo: Sustainable, foresighted thinking and action have been part of the KWS DNA since 1856. We have developed a clear ambition and have defined specific targets that we want to reach by 2030.
1. Safeguard food production, increase yields
Our target is to enable an average of 1.5 percent yield gain (field crops) annually. We want to do this by ensuring continuous progress in plant breeding – and by achieving up to one-quarter of this yield target by providing farmers with digital solutions covering more than 6 million hectares by 2030.
2. More productive plants, less input
One of the key targets of the European Farm-to-Fork strategy is to reduce the use of pesticides in Europe by more than 50 percent by 2030. As part of this strategy, we want to develop for our worldwide markets plants that are more resistant and more tolerant to diseases and drought – more than one-quarter of our portfolio will consist of low-input varieties. To enable this advance in breeding, we will invest more than 30 percent of our research budget specifically with this focus.
3. Enhance crop diversity
Our target is to continue expanding our portfolio to give farmers more options for crop rotation that are economically and ecologically sustainable. We want to achieve this by augmenting crop rotation options and increasing the number of crops with breeding programs from 24 to 27. This will promote the variety of crops worldwide and contribute to biodiversity and sustainable nutrition for the growing global population.
4. Support sustainable nutrition, develop nutritious plants
Our target is that more than 40 percent of our varieties are suitable for direct use in human nutrition. We want to ensure this by developing nutritious plants that, as harvested products, can be used directly or in minimally processed forms (for example, as flour) in food. By including new food and protein plants in our research programs, we are also providing more variety –on people’s plates, too.
5. Improve our ecological footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Our target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that we can influence by 50 percent by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. Improved technologies and more efficient use of existing systems and resources and the increased use of renewable energy, for example in offices and breeding stations, are significant levers for reducing our emissions.
6. Foster social engagement, empower employees
Our target is to transform our KWS corporate values into an even greater commitment and accept more responsibility in society. We plan to achieve this target by investing at least 1 percent of our annual operating profit into social projects outside the company. Within KWS, we will regularly measure and strengthen employee engagement as well as increase our monitoring of global illness and accident rates and continuously reduce them.