Ashland Global Holdings Inc. has announced the first in a series of sustainable business initiatives resulting in positive economic, environment, and social impacts from the company’s Responsible Solvers™ program. 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. These relationships are reportedly critical to the company, which uses guar to formulate specialty ingredients for coatings, personal care, and life sciences 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%. In addition, the program has helped increase farmers’ income, thus expanding the local economy in the small villages.

At the same time, Ashland reports that its 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 provide training and other technical guidance for mustard and wheat crops during the guar off-season. This training also reportedly improved the yield of these crops, making a holistic impact on the farmers’ annual income.

“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 CEO, 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.”

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