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Working Group 01: Sustainable Banana Production and Trade

Definition of sustainable banana production
For a start, the following simple definition of sustainable banana production has been drafted and all participants will be able to comment on it and act on it. 

Sustainable banana production and trade is:

  • conducted with respect for the environment, avoids harmful environmental impacts and conserves natural resources;
  • conducted with respect for labour and other human rights, provides decent work and working conditions and sustains constructive relationships with local communities and wider society;

  • economically viable and productive, provides employees and farmers with an adequate income, and generates fair returns for all actors in the production and supply chain

Launch of virtual library -
A virtual library of good practices has also been launched in a collaborative effort between the international scientific community and major producers like Dole, Chiquita and UGPBAN (French Caribbean). Small-scale producers, who have had to innovate to survive, are also beginning to play a key role in sharing practices to minimise impacts on natural resources. Contribute to the library at

Carbon foot-printing
On the complex subject of carbon foot-printing, where a range of competing methodologies tend to lead to differing results, the Forum has identified the top three contributors to emissions in the life cycle of the banana from field to fruit bowl: shipping (over two thirds of all emissions in one company's study), fertiliser and the cardboard boxes. The industry can now start work on these three areas in order to limit its emissions without having to spend years on more resource-intensive studies. Parallel work on 'water foot-printing' is also identifying the points in the production cycle where action can be taken to conserve this most basic resource.

Pesticide reduction
In the vital area of pesticide reduction, there is now agreement between production companies and workers as to the priority areas for action. Nematicides, aerially sprayed fungicides and the insecticide chlorpyriphos are identified as the top three toxic products with very considerable negative impacts on human and environmental health. The challenge now is to mobilise a much more concerted scientific effort, to find alternatives and to involve the workers in the whole process. Some of the major multinationals are ready to pick up this challenge, but funding needs to be found to put the programme developed in the Forum into practice.

An end to mono-cropping?
It is encouraging that the Forum is not shying away from issues regarded by many as taboo until now. Several stakeholders raised the need to look beyond the current monoculture systems for sustainable solutions. Can disease and pest problems really be solved just by pesticide reduction and substitution with alternative, less harmful products? An end to mono-cropping may sound scary to many commercial growers, but such radical thinking can no longer be excluded. 

Credit for Greenhouse gas emission chart: T. Lescot, CIRAD, France
Sources for pesticide use chart: Preliminary study, L. de Lapeyre de Bellaire (CIRAD, Montpellier, France), J. Essoh Ngando (CARBAP, Cameroun), C. Abadie (CIRAD, Guadeloupe, France), C.Chabrier (CIRAD, Martinique, France), R. Blanco (BGA, Belize), T. Lescot, J. Carlier et F. Cote (CIRAD, Montpellier, France), 2006.

2. Working Group 01: Sustainable Banana Production and Trade
3. Working Group 02: Distribution of Value 
4. Working Group 03: Labour Rights
5. Chiquita’s steps towards gender equality
6. Small farmers show the way: mobilising all stakeholders

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