The Guatemalan Sugar Industry implements sustainable practices to maintain soil health

Conservación de suelos - Azúcar de Guatemala

Since 2014, every December 5th, World Soil Day is celebrated, a date proposed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations -FAO-. This year it focuses on “Soils, origin of food” with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of soils for food production, while calling for sustainable management that guarantees soil health.

According to the book “Cultivation of sugarcane in Guatemala” by Cengicaña, plants, like sugarcane, require 16 elements called essential elements for their growth and development. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen come from water and air; the other 13 nutrients are minerals that are obtained from the soil or are added as fertilizers.

Practices focused on soil conservation

Sustainable soil management has been key to sugar production in Guatemala. The Sugar Industry carries out a set of practices focused on soil and water conservation, including use of green manures, seedbeds in strips, design of areas with soil and water conservation structures (trenches, contour lines, and infiltration wells) and planting of the first third.

Estudio de escorrentía

This set of activities focused on soil health and water conservation, contributes to:

  • Decrease in the use of chemical fertilizers.
  • Increase in organic matter, which means improvement in soil structure, moisture retention and soil biodiversity.
  • Slight increase in yield in sugar production.
  • Reduction of water erosion and surface runoff, which optimizes the infiltration of water that feeds the groundwater table.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, with the support of Cengicaña and the ICC, works for the development and implementation of practices for soil conservation and thus promotes a sustainable, more ecological operation and sustainability of nature.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry presents the Sustainability Guild Report under the GRI standards

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry presented its Sustainability Guild Report for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 harvest seasons, elaborated with the assistance and collaboration of the International Labor Organization -ILO-; The report highlights the progress achieved in terms of environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

The Sustainability Guild Report uses the GRI methodology to integrate into documentary reporting with evidence. The GRI Standards are international best practices designed to inform the public of a variety of economic, environmental, and social impacts. Sustainability reporting against these Standards provides information about organizations’ contributions to sustainable development.

The report addresses 16 key sustainability points of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry. Among them: environmental actions,  generation of clean and renewable energy, the rational use of water and the implementation of systems for the efficient use of the resources, the commitment of the sector to the care and restoration of biodiversity, the reuse of waste, among others.

In the social area, the promotion of decent working conditions with safety and health, training to promote skills improvement and professional development to employees, the guarantee that there is no child labor, the evaluation of compliance with regulations in cane suppliers, evaluation of compliance in the matter of  respect of human rights, actions in communities to mitigate impacts of the operation, among others. In the economic sphere, taxation, support for local suppliers and vulnerable groups.

“It has been a great effort through several years to advance to this point with the integral perspective of PEOPLE + PLANET + PROFIT”, commented Alfredo Vila, president of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

He explained that since 2000 there is a system of Guild Governance, within the framework of national legislation, with Policies and Regulations. “In the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, we are committed to agricultural sustainability and sustainability,” he added.

Similarly, Randall Arias, Principal Specialist in activities with employers ACTEMP/ILO Central America, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti highlighted that, in addition to the quality of the report, the methodology and academic rigor, the guild vision of business associations is remarkable. “Today you set the standard for guilds not only in Guatemala, I serve 10 subregional countries, this is the first report from a guild. I want to congratulate Asazgua leaders for this extraordinary effort and for their commitment and ethics to report transparently”.

In addition, the document lists the governance policies and actions: Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, Labor Policy, Transportation Policy, HIV Policy, OHS Policy, Alignment to the Millennium Development Goals that when changing the Alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals, Environmental Policy, Environmental Guide of the Sugar Cane Sector with the Ministry of Environment, Policy for Suppliers and Policy of Respect for Human Rights.

In Guatemala 91% of vehicles that transport sugarcane use private roads built by the Sugar Industry

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry has build internal roads to transport sugarcane

In Guatemala 91% of the sugarcane produced is transported through an internal network of private roads built by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry. It means that only 1 out of every 10 vehicles that transport sugarcane uses national highways, the rest travel more than 2 thousand kilometers of roads or sugarcane routes that connect the cane fields with the factories in the sugar mills and that receive maintenance every year.

This internal road network of private roads helps to reduce the circulation of sugarcane trucks on national routes and are also used by dozens of communities as alternate routes.

In the “sugarcane route” road safety measures are applied such as signalmen or banderilleros in the sections where the transport of sugarcane crosses the roads to avoid accidents.

Thanks to an agreement between the Guatemalan Sugar Industry and the Technical Training Institute -Intecap-, all the pilots who transport sugarcane are trained and certified by said institution to guarantee that they have the skills to perform the job.

Transport Policy of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

Once the sugarcane is harvested in the field, it is transported to the sugar mill factories to be transformed into sugar. In the last 20 years, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has transformed the transport practices of the harvested sugarcane. 

These practices have regulations within the transport union policy, which is mandatory for all sugarcane transport drivers. The Sugar Industry has a continuous education and training program to facilitate the practical implementation of all standards.

In addition, the regulations of the policy dictate that all sugarcane transport units must have side and rear signage, mechanical maintenance program in sugar mills workshops and sugarcane fixing when appropriate.

The Transport Union Policy is also mandatory knowledge and compliance for all suppliers that provide sugarcane transport services to sugar mills. Compliance with these measures is verified by the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association inspectors.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry acquires commitments to preserve and restore biodiversity

Presentation of the guidelines for the conservation and restoration of biological diversity

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, with the technical advice of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- and with the support of the Biodiversity and Business program in Central America and the Dominican Republic of the German Technical Cooperation -GIZ-, announced the commitments and “Guidelines for the Preservation and Restoration of the Biological Diversity in the Guatemalan Production of Sugar”.

Aware that Guatemala is one of the 20 megadiverse countries in the world, the directors of all the sugar mills, members of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association, approved the guidelines to take specific actions to meet the goal of care and restore the biodiversity in the sugarcane zone.

“In the agro-landscape where sugarcane is grown were documented a third of all the birds know to live in the country. 248 species of birds have been identified in the forests and forest segments within the land where sugarcane grows, 55 of these species are protected according to international and national conservation lists, in addition 78 species of migratory birds find refuge in the sugar cane agro-landscape. ”, explained Alex Guerra, director of the ICC.

“Caring for this biological wealth in our environment is fundamental; thats why we’ve made commitments to carry out our operations in a sustainable way, prioritizing conservation and restoration so that the present and future generations can enjoy the flora and fauna that take refuge in the sugarcane zone”, said Alfredo Vila, president of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Result of over 5 years of investigation

After more than 5 years of studies at the sugarcane landscape, ICC experts documented the existence of a great biological wealth. In Guatemala the sugarcane grows at the south of the country, in a landscape mixed with forests and other plantations.

With the technical support of the ICC and GIZ,  guidelines for the conservation and restoration of biological diversity in the production of Guatemalan Sugar were developed.

Bird seeing in forest within cane fields in GuatemalaThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry will have the scientific advice of the ICC to implement the guidelines, according to the natural conditions of each work area.

“The biological wealth that provides refuge to multiple species in the sugarcane agro-landscape is a treasure that must be taken care of.  It is crucial to protect the biological biodiversity in the world and here, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has taken important commitments to allow Guatemala’s natural legacy to be perpetuated and inherit it to future generations” added Alfredo Vila president of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Click here to see the full document (in Spanish).

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry generated 1,784 GWh of renewable energy

Renewable energy by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

During the 2021-2022 Zafra, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry generated 1,784 GWh of renewable energy from sugarcane biomass. For this, more than 6.4 million tons of sugarcane bagasse were used, resulting from the sugar production process.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry contributed with 26% of the energy consumed in the country during the last Zafra, according to the Association of Independent Cogenerators of Guatemala -ACI-.

The generation of energy from the Sugar Industry is strategic for the country since it takes place during the sugarcane harvest and sugar production season called Zafra. This starts in November and ends in May, so it includes the dry season months when the hydroelectric plants reduce their contribution to the National Interconnected System. This helps keep energy prices stable.

Sugar mills are self-sufficient

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry cogenerates renewable energyThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry has an installed generation capacity of 992 MW, this makes them self-sufficient in the energy field since they generate their own energy, and the surplus is sold to the National Interconnected System.

On average, 67% of the energy produced during the Zafra by the Sugar Industry is injected into the National Interconnected System to meet national demand and exports to Central America and Mexico. The remaining 33% is used for the operation of the factories of the sugar mills.

During the 2021/22 harvest, the cogeneration plants generated 1,784 (GWh) gigawatt-hours of renewable energy to deliver to the grid; the equivalent of 2 times the consumption of all the Municipal Electric Companies of Guatemala for 1 year or all the energy consumed by the more than 1.1 million users for a year.

Generacion de energía renovable con biomasa de caña de azúcarWith the generation of renewable energy, up to 4 million tons of CO2eq are prevented from reaching the environment each year, according to a study of the Carbon Footprint of Guatemalan Sugar, carried out by the Private Institute for Research on Climate Change of Guatemala -ICC-.

The Guatemalan Sugar reaches 43 countries


Sugar from Guatemala sweetened 43 countries in 2021. Last year, sugar and its byproducts represented 4% of the country’s total exports, equivalent to 520 million dollars in foreign currency for the country.

The main countries to which Guatemalan Sugar was exported in 2021 were the United States, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, Haiti, Libya, Jamaica, Italy, Ghana, and Malaysia.

By continent, the main export destinations for Guatemalan sugar are America with 50%, Africa with 15%, Asia with 22%, Europe with 11% and Oceania with 2%.

Of the exports of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry in 2021, 65.7% was sugar, 22.4% alcohol and 11.9% molasses.

Waste is transformed and reused for export

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry takes advantage of their residues, which are transformed to be reused. This is the case of alcohol or ethanol, which is produced with molasses and 55 million gallons are produced each year, most of which are exported.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry produces alcohol or etanolGuatemalan ethanol is used for cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, liquor production and as a fuel. The five main countries where this product was exported in 2021 were: The Netherlands, the United States and its territories, Mexico, Switzerland, and El Salvador.

In addition, during the sugar production process, other types of honey or molasses are also exported and according to data from the Bank of Guatemala in 2021, 72.5% went to the United States; 13.9% to the United Kingdom; 5.5% to Guyana; 5.2% to the Netherlands and 3% to Canada.

Sugar from Guatemala and its byproducts are the second largest export agro-industrial product in Guatemala and one of the main products exported by the country.

Fundazucar celebrates 32 years of promoting health, education, and development on the South of Guatemala

Fundazucar's Better Families Program

32 years ago, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry joined forces and created the Sugar Foundation -Fundazucar-, which was born as the dream of a group of visionary businessmen who bet on education to promote development on the South of Guatemala.

Fundazucar is the social arm of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, since 1990 it promotes the integral development of the communities, working with womenyouthhealth workersteacherscommunity leaders and municipal authorities as agents of change.

Fundazucar's Better Families ProgramAt the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of Fundazucar, which believes in development through training, an example of which is Better Families, a model that promotes Food and Nutritional Security, self-esteem, self-management and leadership in women, as agents of change for the development and well-being of their families and their communities and has trained more than 532 thousand women.

The program has been so successful that it was implemented in Honduras and is currently being adopted by the municipalities of Escuintla, Masagua, La Gomera, La Democracia, Tiquisate in the department of Escuintla, as well as in San Lorenzo and San Jose el idolo, in Suchitepequez.

During these 32 years, the Sugar Foundation has provided training to thousands of people and has contributed to the development and well-being of the communities with comprehensive community development plans and the preparation of technical projects for the construction of drinking water systems. and drains.

Fundazucar's clinics in EscuintlaFundazucar has also facilitated access to health for thousands of people through specialized clinics located in Escuintla.

Thanks to the commitment and effort of the team of social managers who bring training and development to remote communities on the South of Guatemala, Fundazucar has positioned itself as an example and benchmark in community development projects at a national and international level.

We congratulate Fundazucar on its 32nd anniversary and the leaders who had the vision to create the social arm of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry.

Local and subnational governments and the application of the GFB 2030 through transformative actions

We invite you to register and participate in the event “Local and subnational governments and the application of the GFB 2030 through transformative actions” organized by the framework convention on biological diversity, which aims to discuss and exchange experiences for the development of sustainable projects in the present and for the future.

Representatives of local and national governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, activists and stakeholders in the biodiversity agenda will participate, WBio2022. The agenda: WBIO2022_Program

WBio2022 Agenda

WBio2022 Agenda

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry will reach in 2022 more than 7.7 million trees reforested

The Guatemalan Sugar will reforest 900 thousend trees in 2022

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry together with the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- and local partners carried out the program for the recovery and conservation of forests for the eleventh consecutive year, with the planting of 900,000 trees in 400 hectares of land with species such as: cedar, mahogany, Ear Pod Tree, Picconia excelsa, pine, cypress, cocoa, among others.

“With this year’s reforestation plan, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry will have contributed to the planting of 7.7 million trees since the beginning of the Program in 2011. As part of our commitment to the environment, during these 11 years we have joined efforts with communities, local authorities, and organizations, for the conservation and recovery of forests on riverbanks and upper parts of basins”, commented Alfredo Vila, President of the Association of Sugar Producers of Guatemala -Asazgua-.

The Guatemalan Sugar will reforest 900 thousend trees in 2022The Reforestation Plan began with the planting of 300 trees on a farm Called Belem, jurisdiction of Masagua, Escuintla, located at 370 kilometers (230 miles) in the south of Guatemala City. With this activity, the reforestation season officially begins, and will last until August.

It will be carried out in 10 departments of the country: Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Escuintla, Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu, Jalapa, Sololá, Sacatepéquez, Jutiapa and Quetzaltenango.

The production of the trees was in more than 50 nurseries installed in 30 municipalities in 10 departments of the country, “these nurseries are municipal, regional, business owned and community owned,” explained Dr. Alex Guerra, director of the ICC. “The ICC provides seeds, supplies and technical advice in conjunction with INAB,” he added. These is with the financing provided by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry.

More than 310 hectares of land have been reforested by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry initiative on the banks of the rivers on the South of Guatemala alone, equivalent to more than 430 soccer fields, creating gallery forests and biological corridor.

These forests on the banks of rivers help water recharge, soil conservation by preventing erosion and are also natural barriers that prevent flooding and are also home to species of plants and animals.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry takes part in the UN meeting on water, energy, biodiversity, and health

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry takes part in the UN meeting on water, energy, biodiversity, and health

This month in New York was held the event “The role of private industry in support of the SDGs in the areas of water, energy, biodiversity and health”, organized by the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua- and the Organization of United Nations.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is part of the Network of Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions established in 2018 by the United Nations. “Asazgua is a central partner in the global network” said Mr. Minoru Takada of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the opening of the event.

The activity was carried out in a hybrid way (face-to-face and virtual) in two sessions on industry and biodiversity; and sustainable development and health. It was attended by 11 exhibitors and with the participation of more than 180 people from countries such as Brazil, Burundi, Guatemala, Spain, the United States, among others.

It was attended by Oliver Hillel from the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, who highlighted that the active work of economic leaders around the world is needed to reverse the loss of biodiversity.

Efforts of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to achieve the SDGs

Efforts of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to achieve the SDGsDuring his speeches, Alfredo Vila, president of the Latin American Sugar Producers Association -UNALA- and the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua- explained that the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has implemented systems for the efficient use of water, renewable energy, and care of the soil, and has been recognized as an international benchmark in good practices and recognized due to its work into achieving the SDGs.

Luis Miguel Paiz, CEO of Asazgua, spoke about the contributions of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals -SDGs- and during his speech he referred to the development programs promoted by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, such as the empowerment of women, social investment, and the fortification of sugar with Vitamin “A” to prevent childhood blindness, among others.

Similarly, Alex Guerra, CEO of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- spoke about the work carried out by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry together with the UNDP, communities and local governments in forest restoration and protection. “The integration of efforts from different sectors is key to achieving real and impactful results,” highlighted Guerra.

Alex Guerra, CEO of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research
Alex Guerra, CEO of ICC

Another of the lecturers was the mayor of the municipality of Escuintla, Mr. Abraham Rivera, who presented the joint work with the Sugar Foundation -Fundazucar-, an example of how the Sugar Industry and the local government work together for the benefit of the people. “One of the most important alliances we have had has been with Fundazucar for the transfer and implementation of the Better Families program, a program that is generating changes in the communities and is helping us fight malnutrition,” Rivera commented.

UN Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network

In 2018, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs created the Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, which is chaired by Asazgua. This global network aims to meet the sustainable development goals -ODS- number 6 (clean water and sanitation) and number 7 (ensure access to sustainable, reliable, and modern energy for all).

Asazgua is considered a key partner to contribute to the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda since it is an active member, with experiences and practical cases that are considered as an example of private sector participation, necessary for sustainable development.