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Pam Strifler of Monsanto Joins GHI Board
Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) is a coalition of private-sector agriculture companies who believe that the right policies can improve global food and nutrition security, accelerate productivity, and conserve natural resources. Each GHI Member Company has a representative on the Board of Directors.
In 2017, Pam Strifler, Vice President for Global Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement and Corporate Insights joined the GHI Board as the representative of Monsanto Company. Below is an interview with Pam about her background in agriculture and Monsanto’s commitment to agricultural sustainability.
GHI: Pam, tell us a bit about how you became involved in agriculture and your role at Monsanto Company.
Pam: Born and raised in the city of St Louis, I gained experience in agriculture working with Monsanto customers, employees and stakeholders over the last 20 years. At Monsanto, I have worked in many roles, including Strategy for Integrated Farming; U.S. Row Crops Marketing Lead; Business Director for the Regional Seed Business; Director of Customer Operations, Business Development and Marketing; and Animal Agriculture Lead.
As Vice President Global Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement and Corporate Insights, I am responsible for leading sustainability initiatives, key stakeholder collaborations, societal outreach and consumer market intelligence.
Earlier this year, we released the 2016 Sustainability Report, Growing Better Together. Highlights include our actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change through collaborative efforts, the advancement of our biodiversity strategy and our position and alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
I also oversee the development of Monsanto’s global sustainability strategy and execution of key initiatives such as our commitment to make our operational footprint carbon neutral by 2021, biodiversity programs like honey bee health and monarch habitat, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative and the company’s partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Water Efficient Maize for Africa.
As someone who did not grow up on a farm, I understand that many grocery store consumers may not have a deep understanding about where their food comes from. I love working with a variety of people to encourage them to think critically about how their food is produced and why it matters in their daily lives.
GHI: In GHI’s 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) we talk about the business case for climate leadership. Tell us about Monsanto’s commitment to a carbon neutral future.
Pam: Climate change threatens the livelihoods of millions of farmers, and it’s one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. Great strides have already been made to reduce the intensity of agriculture’s carbon footprint and to help farmers adapt to a changing climate, but agriculture still accounts for approximately 13 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
We still need to do more collectively, and I am extremely proud and humbled to work for a company that not only strives to feed the world’s population, but also strives to protect the planet which means being part of the climate solution.
In December 2015, Monsanto announced a corporate commitment to make our footprint carbon neutral by 2021. One of our goals is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our crop protection operations by 22 percent (per pound of active ingredient) by 2020, relative to our baseline in 2010, and we are already 89 percent of the way toward meeting that goal.
We’ve also established an internal carbon price, and we’re developing approaches to increase farmer adoption of carbon neutral crop production. Plus, we’re helping farmers identify modern agriculture techniques and technologies using data that will reduce our impact on the environment. I would encourage everyone to explore the Monsanto.com site. It has a wealth of information on conserving our natural resources through Modern Ag technologies and practices.
Monsanto’s 2016 Sustainability Report, Growing Better Together, has more information on all our commitments.
GHI: Improving the productivity and sustainability of small-scale agricultural production is essential to achieve global food security and poverty reduction goals. How is Monsanto engaged in this effort?
Pam: Technology is critical to improving productivity and sustainability for all farmers, including those operating at the smallest scales.
Almost 90 percent of farmers around the world are smallholders, growing crops for their own use and for local sale. These farmers are often challenged with rural isolation and limited agronomic resources. Seventy percent of smallholder farmers have a mobile telephone, meaning they can potentially access market data and agronomic information.
FarmRise-Mobile Farm Care is a free service provided to smallholder farmers by Monsanto and integrated into The Climate Corporation’s portfolio of services. It uses mobile telephones to deliver relevant information and advice directly to farmers in the field to help them make decisions for a successful harvest. The advice is tailored to meet the needs of farmers. In India, for example, the information is available in seven languages for multiple crops, including vegetables, cotton and corn.
FarmRise has reached more than 4 million farmers — 1.3 million farmers in India alone — and continues to expand across Asia and Africa.
GHI: What do you see as GHI’s contribution to improving global agricultural productivity and sustainability?
Pam: Agricultural productivity and sustainability are complex, global challenges. GHI creates data-driven resources that put these challenges into context and identify the policies, investment and innovations needed to succeed. I appreciate how GHI’s GAP Report humanizes these multifaceted issues and emphasizes the importance of collaboration between all stakeholders, and I look forward to playing an important role moving forward.
*Water Efficient Maize in Africa (WEMA) is led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Key WEMA partners include the National Agricultural Research Institutes in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Monsanto.