Responsible Solvers initiative increases Indian farmers' yield and income, lowers production costs, expands local economy, and positively impacts the environment
Ashland Global Holdings has announced the first of a series of sustainable business initiatives resulting in positive economic, environment and social impacts from the company’s recently announced Responsible Solvers™ program.
Fueled by the company’s purpose "to responsibly solve for a better world" and deep commitment to social programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Ashland teamed up with the SM Sehgal Foundation in 2021 to think differently about its supplier relationships in India.
The collective goal was to increase the volume of guar harvested annually through educational programs and scientific solutions for sustainable farming, while respecting the sourcing relationships and local cultures of small village farmers in the Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan, India. The relationships are critical to the company which uses guar to formulate specialty ingredients for personal care, life sciences and coatings applications.
The pilot program included 250 farms from 10 villages. Using modern technologies, farmers were taught sustainable agronomic practices and water conservation. The program’s successful results include helping farmers lower their production cost while increasing their crop yield approximately 30 percent. In addition, the program has helped increase farmers’ income, thus expanding the local economy in the small villages.
At the same time, Ashland’s commitment to gender equality led to specific training focused on the local female population to empower them, improve their technical knowledge and skills, and help elevate their standard of living. Based on the success of the pilot, Ashland is moving forward with plans to increase the number of farms to 5,000 by 2025.
In addition to aiding the farmers with guar production, Ashland’s Responsible Solvers™ mindset led the team to also provide training and other technical guidance for mustard and wheat crops during the guar off-season. This training also improved the yield of these crops, making a holistic impact on the farmers’ annual income.
More than a year ago, Ashland integrated environment, social and governance (ESG) principles into the company’s strategic operating plans. The company has taken an earnest and heartfelt approach towards sustainability and the local communities in which it operates as it continues to intensify its focus on ESG.
“Our commitment to profitable, sustainable growth includes a strong innovation culture, sustainability-aligned technology portfolio, goals for the environment, social initiatives, and continued strong ethics, compliance, transparency and governance,” said Guillermo Novo, chair and chief executive officer, Ashland. “In this instance, providing STEM skills and education both on and off the field to small farmers is having a very real, positive impact in their lives and in their small village communities. In addition to maximizing shareholder value, as we innovate, Ashland will continue to act in a manner that contributes to the welfare of society and the environment.”
Ashland plans to share more success stories and best practices from the Responsible Solvers™ program. To view the video and learn more, visit www.ashland.com/guar and www.ashland.com/responsiblesolvers