Meet our member: Atlas Foods (Pvt) Ltd
Working alongside our members to feed the world. Sustainably.
SRP, together with our members and partners, is dedicated to transforming the global rice sector throughout the entire value chain for a healthier, more inclusive and sustainable future. In this interview series we ask SRP members and partners why they joined SRP, the main trends and developments they see in the industry, as well as their vision for the sector.
In this interview Samee Ullah Naeem, Chief Executive Officer at Atlas Foods (Pvt) Ltd shared with us how the company focuses on sustainability, their projects and activities related to SRP.
Company Name: Atlas Foods (Pvt) Ltd
Contact: Samee Ullah Naeem, Chief Executive Officer
SRP member since: 2019
Primary Activity: Miller, Exporter
1. Tell us about your company, your mission, and why sustainability is important for you?
Atlas Foods (Pvt) Ltd has been operating since 2006 and is located in the very heart of Punjab (KAMOKE), an area well renowned for the production of excellent quality basmati rice. Atlas (Pvt) Ltd is an ISO 22000:2018 certified, BSCI, SRP-Verified, Fairtrade, USDA Organic, EU Organic recognized organization which emerged as highly professional food group and entered in the market with the vision to serve high-quality products based on swift services and vowed commitment.
Atlas Foods processes, packs and serves premium quality rice which not only shows full adherence to regulatory requirements of importing countries but also reaches high satisfaction of its consumers. Atlas Foods endeavors to deliver a product which strives to be of great quality before and after cooking in length, wholesomeness, nutrition and free from all types of physical, chemical and microbiological hazards.
Sustainability and the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) are of great importance to Atlas Foods for several reasons. Here’s why SRP holds significance for the company:
Environmental Sustainability: SRP promotes sustainable practices in rice production that minimize the negative environmental impact. As a company committed to sustainability, Atlas Foods recognizes the importance of preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and conserving biodiversity. Implementing the SRP Standard allows Atlas Foods to contribute to environmental sustainability by adopting practices such as water-efficient irrigation, reduced chemical inputs, and climate-smart agriculture.
Social Responsibility: SRP emphasizes social responsibility and aims to improve the livelihoods of rice farmers. By implementing sustainable practices, Atlas Foods supports local communities by enhancing farmers’ income and livelihood opportunities. This contributes to poverty alleviation, rural development, and social equity. Atlas Foods recognizes the importance of ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and promoting inclusive growth within the rice value chain.
Market Differentiation: Sustainable rice is increasingly gaining traction in the market as consumers become more conscious of their purchasing choices. By adopting the SRP Standard, Atlas Foods positions itself as a leader in sustainable agriculture. This allows the company to differentiate its products, attract environmentally-conscious consumers, and access premium markets. Implementing the SRP Standard gives Atlas Foods a competitive edge by aligning its practices with consumer preferences and market trends.
Long-Term Viability: Sustainable rice production is essential for the long-term viability of the rice industry. By implementing the SRP Standard, Atlas Foods contributes to the sustainability and resilience of the rice value chain. Sustainable practices enhance soil health, reduce water usage, and promote biodiversity, thereby ensuring the availability of resources for future generations. As a forward-thinking company, Atlas Foods recognizes that sustainable practices are crucial for securing the future of rice production and maintaining a stable supply chain.
Stakeholder Expectations: Customers, investors, and other stakeholders increasingly expect companies to operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. By embracing SRP, Atlas Foods meets these expectations and demonstrates its commitment to sustainability. This fosters trust, strengthens relationships with stakeholders, and enhances the company’s reputation as a responsible and conscientious player in the rice industry. Overall, SRP is important to Atlas Foods because it aligns with the company’s values, enables market differentiation, supports environmental stewardship, improves social well-being, and ensures the long-term viability of the rice value chain. By implementing the SRP Standard, Atlas Foods not only benefits its own business but also contributes to a more sustainable and resilient rice industry.
2. Tell us about your experience as an SRP member. When and why did you decide to join SRP?
As part of our dedication to make sustainable rice production a priority for our organization, we joined SRP in 2019. A crucial component of our larger sustainability aim is our SRP membership and implementing the SRP Standard and other tools at farm level. Atlas Foods, being a top exporter of rice from Pakistan, has experienced significant benefits and impact.
Through our membership, Atlas Foods has gained access to valuable resources, knowledge, and best practices in sustainable rice production. We have collaborated with stakeholders, including farmers, to promote sustainable practices and improve the environmental and social aspects of rice cultivation.
The SRP verification has provided us with a competitive edge in the international market, attracting environmentally conscious buyers. Atlas Foods’ involvement in SRP has also enhanced supply chain transparency and traceability. Overall, our membership has enabled us to contribute to the development of sustainable rice production in Pakistan while strengthening our reputation as a sustainable rice supplier.
3. What opportunities do you see for your company and your value chain stakeholders by being part of the SRP membership?
Being part of the SRP membership offers several opportunities for Atlas Foods and its value chain stakeholders. These opportunities include:
Access to Knowledge and Best Practices: As an SRP member, Atlas Foods gains access to a wealth of knowledge, research findings, and best practices related to sustainable rice production. This information helps us to enhance our own operations and improve sustainability throughout our value chain.
Collaboration and Partnerships: SRP provides a platform for collaboration among various stakeholders, including farmers, government agencies, NGOs, and researchers. This collaboration allows Atlas Foods to work closely with these partners to develop and implement sustainable practices, exchange ideas, and jointly tackle challenges in the rice industry.
Market Recognition and Access: SRP verification is globally recognized as a mark of sustainable production. By being an SRP member, Atlas Foods can obtain this verification, which provides us with a competitive advantage in the market. It attracts environmentally conscious buyers and opens up opportunities to access new markets and expand our customer base.
Supply Chain Transparency and Traceability: The SRP membership encourages and facilitates supply chain transparency and traceability. By adhering to SRP guidelines and monitoring systems, Atlas Foods can ensure the traceability and sustainability of our rice production. This transparency helps build trust among customers and stakeholders and enhances our reputation as a responsible and sustainable rice supplier.
Capacity Building and Farmer Empowerment: The SRP membership offers opportunities for capacity building and farmer empowerment. Atlas Foods can participate in training programs and knowledge transfer activities to educate and empower farmers in sustainable practices. By supporting farmers in adopting these practices, Atlas Foods contributes to the long-term sustainability of the entire value chain while improving the socio-economic conditions of farmers.
Influence and Policy Advocacy: As an SRP member, Atlas Foods can contribute to the development of sustainable rice production standards and guidelines. They have the opportunity to influence policies and advocate for sustainable practices in the rice industry, both at a local and global level. This involvement helps shape the industry towards greater sustainability and responsible practices.
In summary, the SRP membership offers Atlas Foods and its value chain stakeholders opportunities to access knowledge, collaborate with partners, gain market recognition, ensure supply chain transparency, empower farmers, and influence industry policies. These opportunities contribute to their growth, competitiveness, and the overall sustainability of the rice sector.
4. Tell us about your initiatives/projects related to SRP and your involvement with SRP.
Atlas Foods has continuously been working to assist in implementing the SRP Standard and other tools during the last four years. As for the activities, we start by assisting with laser levelling the land by paying farmers 50% of the expenses for the laser levelling, providing them with certified seeds and AWD tubes on a cost-to-cost basis. These initiatives help to increase yields and conserve water and soil. The farmer is then regularly visited during the crop cycle and given timely farm advisory on the efficient use of inputs, land preparation, and other agronomic practices by our agriculture expert team.
5. Have there been challenges implementing SRP in your company? If so, what challenges have you faced?
As a company committed to sustainability, Atlas Foods took up the challenge of implementing the SRP Standard but encountered various obstacles during the process.
Farmer Engagement: One of the primary challenges was getting farmers to adopt sustainable practices. Many farmers were accustomed to traditional methods and were hesitant to change their practices. Atlas Foods invested time and resources in educating farmers about the benefits of sustainable farming, including increased productivity, reduced environmental impact, and access to premium markets. Building trust and strong relationships with farmers was crucial in facilitating their willingness to adopt new techniques.
Access to Resources: Implementing sustainable practices often required investments in technology, equipment, and infrastructure. Many small-scale farmers, particularly in developing regions, lacked access to these resources. Atlas Foods faced challenges in providing farmers with the necessary tools and resources to implement sustainable farming practices, including affordability, availability, and logistics.
Knowledge and Training: Another challenge was providing adequate training and knowledge transfer to farmers. Sustainable farming techniques required farmers to learn new skills and practices, such as integrated pest management, water management, and soil conservation. Atlas Foods developed comprehensive training programs and provided ongoing support to ensure that farmers could effectively adopt and implement sustainable practices.
Verification and Compliance: SRP required adherence to specific sustainability standards and verification processes. Atlas Foods had to ensure that all farmers in our supply chain met these requirements. However, ensuring compliance across a diverse network of farmers was challenging. Atlas Foods invested in monitoring systems, audits, and verification processes to track and verify sustainable practices, which were resource-intensive.
Market Demand and Premium Pricing: Sustainable rice often commanded a premium in the market due to the additional costs associated with sustainable practices. Atlas Foods faced challenges in convincing consumers to pay higher prices for sustainable rice and in securing market demand for their products. This required effective communication and marketing strategies to raise awareness about the value of sustainable rice and its positive impact on the environment and local communities.
Scaling Up and Collaboration: Implementing the SRP Standard across a large-scale operation required collaboration with various stakeholders, including farmers, suppliers, and local communities. Atlas Foods had to establish partnerships and build a network of stakeholders to effectively scale up our sustainable rice production. This involved addressing coordination challenges, aligning incentives, and fostering collaboration among different actors in the rice value chain.
Despite these challenges, the implementation of the SRP Standard by Atlas Foods offered significant opportunities for the company to differentiate ourselves in the market, enhance our sustainability credentials, and contribute to the overall sustainability of the rice industry. By addressing these challenges through strategic planning, investment, and effective stakeholder engagement, Atlas Foods paved the way for a more sustainable future in rice production.
6. Tell us about the future. What are your company’s vision and ambition for the sustainable development of the rice sector, and how could SRP help you achieve this ambition?
One of Pakistan’s main crops is rice, contributing significantly to exports, and it is the second most common staple food after wheat. Pakistan is among the top three exporters of rice worldwide. Therefore, the importance of sustainable rice cultivation has increased in light of issues like food security, resource efficiency, and farmer livelihoods. The sustainable rice production in Pakistan is a goal of Atlas Foods. To achieve sustainability in the rice industry, Atlas Foods is fostering collaborations with the public, businesses, and academic sector both domestically and abroad. SRP is providing support to develop these linkages. By using the SRP platform, we hope to expand our efforts to engage everyone involved in promoting a sustainable rice production system, from the farm to the plate.
7. From your point of view, why should more companies and industry actors join SRP? Do you have any advice or recommendations for them?
Linking development and local, national, and worldwide opportunities, SRP provides enormous value for all its members. Companies’ commitments to sustainability gain further credibility through SRP membership. In addition, SRP gives businesses looking for sustainable business practices tools to focus their efforts on sustainability. Consumer confidence and trust in an organization’s efforts are improved and increased through SRP participation. If local businesses want to explore international markets, SRP membership is crucial for establishing a solid international reputation.
8. What is your vision for 2025?
By 2025, Atlas Foods envisions becoming a global leader in sustainable rice production, contributing to food security and environmental sustainability. With a focus on supply chain traceability and transparency, collaborative partnerships, and the adoption of innovative technologies, Atlas Foods aims to inspire the industry and create a future where sustainable rice production is the norm, fostering a resilient and sustainable global food system.
Find out more about Atlas Foods (Pvt) Ltd:
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