Brazil's JBS launches fund to foster Amazon preservation

By Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - JBS SA JBSS3.SA, the world's top meatpacker, launched on Wednesday a 1 billion reais ($182.77 million) fund to foster social and economic development in the Amazon, according to a securities filing.

The fund is part of a bigger JBS initiative to fight deforestation and climate change, including monitoring indirect cattle suppliers, the company added.

JBS' move comes as Brazil is under strong criticism for deforestation and fires in the Amazon.

The company aims to invest 250 million reais in the fund in its first five years and may invest more 250 million by 2030, depending on donations, global CEO Gilberto Tomazoni said in an interview. Third-part companies are expected to join the project and invest up to 500 million reais.

In another move, JBS plans to monitor 100% of its indirect cattle suppliers by 2025, to fight illegal cattle ranchers, using blockchain.

"Currently, the company does not monitor indirect suppliers and no company does so. But we plan to close this gap using technology," the global CEO said, adding its 50,000 direct suppliers are already monitored.

The company plans to use information provided by its suppliers to monitor indirect suppliers, aiming to launch it in 2021, starting in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

The meatpacker plans to share information gathered with other agents, such as lenders.

(Reporting by Roberto Samora, writing by Carolina Mandl, editing by Andrew Heavens and Nick Zieminski)

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