Interview JANUARY 2020 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com Alltech An eventful time at When Matt O’Keeffe spoke to Dr. Mark Lyons in mid-December, the Alltech CEO was looking forward to a Christmas break with his family in Ireland. Mark had just completed a very successful North American sales marketing meeting at the end of what he described as “a very eventful year for Alltech”. That included a comprehensive international survey of women in food and agriculture. Mark outlined the purpose: “We had the opportunity to connect with an event in Amsterdam called Women in Food and Agriculture. As part of that, we felt that there was a need to have a sense of where we stand in terms of inclusion and gender equality in the food and agricultural sectors and to get a sense of how people think about these issues. This is part of a bigger initiative for Alltech. In May we launched Working Together for a Planet of Plenty. This is bigger than Alltech and bigger than any one organisation or industry. It’s our belief that if we utilise technologies and that infinite human ingenuity then we can create a world of abundance, not a world of finite resources and scarcity, this negative attitude we hear in the press and in our daily lives. As part of this, Alltech has signed up to nine UN Sustainable Development Goals and one of them is Gender Equality. This is a very important issue and it’s a great way for us to actively engage with the question of gender equality. With each of the Sustainable Development Goals, we’ve been trying to have something that is not just part of day to day activities, but also something that’s a tangible example of making a difference.” “The survey gave us the chance to examine our own record in terms of who we are hiring, how we are mentoring our people and providing equal opportunities for educational and career advancement. From a top down perspective, we need to have standards, we need to be measuring and we need to be setting goals and targets for ourselves. But for me, one of the most fundamental things is giving people educational opportunities throughout their careers and giving them the chance to march up that ladder towards leadership positions.” Environmental ambition “It’s an exciting time as we are now entering our fifth decade. We are really focusing on this big ambition we have for our Planet of Plenty initiative. We’re asking each of our markets to define what the Planet of Plenty project means for them. Within an Irish context the environment has been highlighted as an area where we need to do more work. The message is that with the technology capabilities we have as an industry, we can solve a lot of the environmental challenges. We need to be telling the story of what agriculturalists are doing, and how innovative agriculture is as a sector. One of the projects we have is to identify ways to mitigate environmental impact and at the same time show how efficient Irish agriculture is at producing food. We want to show how important it is for Ireland to be producing food and exporting is to countries that cannot produce it as efficiently. These are our big 12