On Earth Day, which takes place globally every year on April 22, we take a look behind the scenes at Dr. Schär to find out where our raw materials come from. The motto of the international Earth Day 2021 is "Restore our Earth": This puts the topic of sustainable nutrition on the table, which has always been in focus at Dr. Schär: We strive for sustainable origins, farming methods and the highest quality of the cereals we use in our products. That is why we pay special attention to natural ingredients and close cooperation with our local partners in farming and processing. To have a closer look at this topic, we talked to Stefano Bavoso, one of our contract farmers, about the controlled cultivation at Dr. Schär.
Stefano lives with his wife and two young daughters in the Italian province of Alessia, part of the Piedmont region. This is where the 38-year-old runs a family business together with his father. Although most people think of pizza and pasta when they think of Italy, the country is the largest producer of rice in Europe, and Piedmont is Europe's largest cultivation area. Consequently, rice fields take up the majority of Stefano’s farmland with about 150 hectares. In addition, they also grow other cereals.
Interview with Stefano Bavoso, contract farmer of Dr. Schär:
1. Stefano, how did the partnership with Dr. Schär come together?
My father and I have been working with Dr. Schär for a good five to six years now. Of course, I already knew the products before, but we really started working together due to a cereal-processing company in our neighbourhood. They were already a supplier of Dr. Schär and since Dr. Schär is committed to cultivating raw materials as close as possible to the milling plant and the production area, a partnership was quite natural.
2. Can you give us an idea of your everyday life? How does sustainable cultivation of rice look like?
Rice cultivation always works in the same traditional way and can hardly be substituted by modern techniques. Most of the time, therefore, the life of a rice farmer takes place in the fields: First, the soil is levelled, which is important because the rice grows in water and this helps to maintain an even water level. Before sowing in the first weeks of May, the fields are flooded. The water serves as an insulating buffer that balances the temperature differences between day and night. This protects the plants from the heat during the day and cool temperatures at night. Then the rice grows and the fields must be regularly freed from the weeds that sprawl in the water. In autumn, the rice is finally harvested, dried and stored.
3. What happens after the harvest? Is it important to you to know what food is made from your rice and that it improves the quality of life for many people?
After the rice has been stored in a dry place, it is time for further processing. The rice is first peeled before it is milled. This rice flour is then delivered to Dr. Schär, where it is used to produce cookies, pasta and other products. For me, it is important to know for what our grain is used. After all, people really need these products. Knowing that my work helps to improve the everyday lives and well-being of many people makes me proud.