De Heus and Bel Ga fulfill commitments to sustainability with solar rooftop portfolio

March 17, 2023 | 15:16
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De Heus, Bel Ga and Green Roof have formed a partnership with a view to deliver a positive impact on Vietnam’s sustainability progress. Johan van den Ban, CEO of De Heus Vietnam, discussed with VIR’s Thanh Van the importance of the latest tie-up between the three companies.
De Heus and Bel Ga fulfill commitments to sustainability with solar rooftop portfolio

Could you shed some light on the latest partnership between De Heus, Bel Ga, and Green Roof?

On March 2, De Heus, Bel Ga and Green Roof signed an MoU to establish a partnership and cooperation to develop a 20 MWp solar rooftop portfolio.

This solar rooftop portfolio is the largest of its kind in 2023 in the country. It will cover all feed mills and swine GGP farms of De Heus, and the Bel Ga poultry parent stock farms and hatcheries. In total, more than 30 locations will be covered across 19 provinces in Vietnam.

Vietnam has made a pledge to achieve net-zero by 2050. How will this partnership help?

The mentioned solar rooftop portfolio is projected to generate more than 28 million kWh of clean energy and prevent more than 22,500 tons of carbon emissions each year. This is comparable to the annual CO2 absorption capacity of 1 million mature trees, or offsetting the emission of 5,000 cars per year.

We expect our partnership will strongly inspire and motivate more collaborative and synergistic efforts across the agriculture sector in promoting sustainable practices and contribute to the Vietnamese government’s net-zero commitment.

Furthermore, this project is the first of many projects in the future that will support our effort towards a greener agriculture sector. We expect to learn a lot during the implementation of this project, and based on this experience we will explore and develop more and larger-scale solar energy projects, such as battery installation, floating solar panels on aquaculture farms, and even exploring other sources of green energy such as wind energy to support not only our own production but also helping our partners and customers become more sustainable.

Why did you choose Green Roof as a partner to co-develop the solar rooftop portfolio?

Green Roof is supported by two investment funds – the Dutch Climate Fund Manager and the Norwegian Norfund, and share the same vision and expectation regarding sustainability that De Heus and Bel Ga also commit to. Green Roof is experienced in permitting and documentation for similar projects in Vietnam, and they have proved during the bidding process that they are a competent partner by presenting us with multiple proposals and solutions for each rooftop.

What is the impact of this project on the food value chain in Vietnam?

At De Heus, we are deeply passionate about contributing to a better and more sustainable future for Vietnam. This partnership and the development of the solar rooftop portfolio for our operations in Vietnam is one of the testaments to our commitment to drive real changes and contribute to a more sustainable food value chain as a leading animal feed producer. We look forward to its positive impact on our environment and society.

Specifically, this project helps us reduce the carbon footprint of our own operation, lower energy costs significantly and free up resources that can be used to improve other aspects of the food value chain, which will contribute to a low-carbon agriculture sector.

Besides this, we are aware that European and other markets’ consumers have become more concerned about the environmental impact of the products they consume. By using solar energy to power our operations, we also help our customers to meet the demands for green production and continue to export to Europe and other markets, mainly shrimp and basa fish exporters for now.

We hope that this effort will set an example for players in the industry and facilitate Vietnam's agricultural sector to position itself as a leader in sustainable agriculture and food production, which is becoming increasingly important in the global market.

What is De Heus's plan to promote sustainable development in the country?

Our global sustainability programme ‘Responsible Feeding’ provides us with overarching guidance to foster sustainability. It starts with how we contribute to responsible food production through high-quality, efficient and innovative feeding and farming solutions, then expands our role to leading and facilitating the sustainable transformation of the whole supply chain in which we are active. Along the journey, we make sure we engage and empower our employees, independent livestock and aquaculture farmers, as well as facilitate the improvement in the quality of lives of the local communities.

With our customer-centric business approach, we put a special focus on supporting our farmers to develop and improve their farming efficiency and product quality to be on par with global players. In particular, we are supporting them to use antibiotics responsibly, step-by-step meeting the government’s regulation to phase out preventive usage of antibiotics by 2025.

We are also strictly measuring carbon emissions at our own facilities and exploring innovative ways to measure and reduce emissions at our partners’ (farms and suppliers’) level. The integration of the feed business of Masan into De Heus Vietnam has so far been very successful, also from a sustainability perspective.

We have significantly reduced the carbon footprint of the activities we took over, and one of the key synergies we are focusing on relates to making Vietnam’s feed production greener and more cost-efficient. Numerous CAPEX projects that we have been working on have facilitated this process positively until now.

What is Bel Ga's commitment to pursuing sustainability through this project?

This year marks the 10-year milestone of Bel Ga in Vietnam, which specialises in producing and providing high-quality poultry day-old chicks and day-old layers. Since its inception in Vietnam in 2013, Bel Ga has quickly become a trusted name in the poultry genetics sector thanks to the partnership of its two parent companies De Heus Animal Nutrition and Belgabroed.

Over the past decade, the company has dedicated itself to philanthropic activities and giving back to the local community while doing business. But Bel Ga has realised that its responsibility goes beyond just that. Bel Ga believes it must contribute to environmental sustainability.

For Bel Ga, the project is the first action to work on its sustainability programme. Bel Ga is committed to pursuing it with several related projects. For example, using the outputs of the farm as organic fertiliser, and looking into solutions to capture rainwater. The company also wants to lead by example and convince customers to follow this direction.

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