Interview with Doug Christie

Doug Christie
Doug Christie
President and BU Leader
Cargill Cotton
Cargill Cotton

What can be done to limit the impact of climate change/uncertainty on cotton yield?

Bt is a good example of how technology aids yield. Yields in India will improve immensely as long as technology in seeds and other inputs are made available to farmers. However, another factor is irrigation. Indian cotton is largely rain-fed and vagaries on monsoon could swing yields by as much as 10 per cent. The government has initiated a good momentum by promoting investment in technologies like drip irrigation. The scale and scope needs to improve. This will not only help the cotton yields, but across all crops.

What steps does Cargill Cotton take to ensure a greener footprint?

Our work to promote sustainable cotton production parallels our efforts in other supply chains, with an approach that combines farmer training in best agricultural practices; giving them access to resources and markets; helping them raise their livelihoods; and supporting their communities. Additionally, we partner with other organisations and other sustainable cotton programmes to drive improvements across the sector, encourage responsible labour practices and reduce environmental footprint of our own operations. We are a member of the BCI, a multi-stakeholder undertaking to make global cotton production function better for the people who produce the crop, lessen environmental impacts where it is grown, and improve the sector's overall sustainability. Cargill is now the largest trader globally of BCI-certified cotton. In all of our operations, we strive to improve our energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable sources, lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce freshwater use. Our cotton operations comply with our stringent corporate environmental policies, and support our corporate goals in these areas. Cotton ginning has a relatively low environmental impact, because the operating season lasts for less than six months of the year following harvest, and facilities use minimal resources. Our ginning operations use renewable energy sourced from nearby hydroelectric sources. All of the waste produced at our gins is reused or recycled, including wastewater and discarded plant material. The latter is composted and given to farmers to mix with fertilisers.

How has the growth of e-commerce impacted marketing and communication?

In developed countries, a lot of farm inputs are marketed through e-commerce; and farmers increasingly rely on technology to conduct business from their farms or fields. E-commerce has allowed greater access to timely market information. Like e-commerce in general, it cuts down cost and puts the farmers directly in touch with the technology provider.

What are the trends expected to shape up marketing and communication in the next one year or so?

In developing countries, the advent of smartphones has changed the way farmers access information. Traditional information sources like the state owned KVKs (Krishi Vigyan Kendras), print and television media are supplemented by more active information sources like web portals and apps. It is not only shaping up marketing, but also farm advisory. Farmers are getting more aware and better informed. The source of information today is as powerful as the information itself. At the consumer level shopping 'on the go' is becoming more convenient and proffered. With information being bombarded all over, going forward - the farmer and the consumer both - will demand more timely, customised and relevant information.
Published on: 10/07/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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