Protecting biodiversity in the cultivation and processing of pineapples and bananas
Title: From Farm to Fork: Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Agricultural Food Value Chains
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Countries: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic
Lead executing agency: Costa Rica: Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, Dominican Republic: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
Overall term: 2018 to 2022
More than half of the land area in Costa Rica is covered in forest and the country is among those with the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. A third of the land area is used for agricultural purposes. The cultivation of pineapples, bananas, rice, sugar cane and oil palms in particular are being stepped up. Bananas and pineapples are the most important agricultural export products in Costa Rica. They are mostly cultivated by international fruit companies on large plantations. Many of the plant protection products and fertilisers used can also have a negative effect on the country’s biodiversity. There is hardly any knowledge sharing among large producers, and there are few available platforms to to systematically promote sustainable forms of cultivation.
The Dominican Republic is one of the most species-rich countries in the Caribbean. Over the past few years, it has established itself as a global market leader in exporting organically produced bananas, which dominate in comparison to conventionally cultivated products. Yet, even if organic farming has a much less negative impact on the environment compared to conventional cultivation, it still presents challenges. For example, intensive organic farming which relies on compost as a fertiliser can lead to a high concentration of nitrates in groundwater. Inefficient irrigation methods also result in high water consumption. The problem of irrigation is exacerbated even further in the Dominican Republic by the effects of climate change. For example, agriculture in the Dominican Republic is highly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Strong winds cause major erosion; extreme heat puts the ground and plants under stress and heavy rainfall causes soil saturation and major flushing of its nutrients.
At the same time, small producers in particular lack the technical capacities, human resources and knowledge to invest in environmentally sound production methods.
Aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services are increasingly integrated into the banana and pineapple value chains.
The project works together with all the relevant stakeholders along the banana and pineapple value chains, from farm to fork. Close dialogue with the ministries in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic is also maintained in order to improve the frameworks for agricultural practices that preserves biodiversity.
Effective biodiversity criteria for the cultivation of bananas and pineapples will be incorporated into national and international standards of food companies. The project is also selecting pilot farms which already implement biodiversity-responsible measures and can underpin recommendations with practical lessons learned. Moreover, the project will develop a biodiversity check for farm managers and a training programme for producers on farming for biodiversity.
To support successful and environmentally sound business models and encourage the implementation of measures to protect biodiversity in production, an idea contest for biodiversity supports best practices. Incentives will be developed for actors to invest in biodiversity in the farms along the entire pineapple and banana value chains.
One crucial factor for the sustainability of the project is demand for bananas and pineapples cultivated in a way that preserves biodiversity. Awareness of the value of biodiversity will therefore be raised in the food industry and among end consumers.
Systematic methods and instruments, and the analysis of lessons learned and good practices, are the foundation for knowledge sharing. Knowledge will be shared with key actors and the replication of successful approaches will be promoted through the active participation of companies, producers, strategic partner institutions and project staff in national and international forums and conferences. Information portals and dialogue platforms will also be used.