According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Ecuador's new manual to improve the health and safety of banana workers can be adapted to other countries.
Victor Prada, an economist from that agency, said that Ecuador's manual, which had been presented at a meeting of the World Banana Forum in Geneva last week, had been agreed upon by Ecuador's public sector, private sector, and civil society.
Ecuador is the world's largest banana exporter, as it exports almost 6 of the 20 million tons of bananas sold worldwide every year.
The manual, which was developed by the FAO and Ecuador, will serve some 250,000 direct workers and some 2 million employees related to the export of that fruit in that country.
It includes recommendations directed to trainers and workers of the sector regarding the use of pesticides (very prevalent in this type of plantation); protection measures, hygiene standards, information on risks, issues of gender violence, and first aid in case of emergency, among other issues.
Prada said that they expected this manual would allow training the heads of the occupational safety committees of the banana industry and, through the Government, disseminating information among small Ecuadorian producers.
"The intention is to replicate this project in all producing countries that have a political interest in doing so," said the expert, as banana cultivation is carried out in a similar way throughout the world, from Latin America to Asia-Pacific.
After cereals, sugar, coffee, and cocoa, bananas are the most traded agricultural product in the world and attempts to lower prices often have disastrous consequences on the rights of workers and the environment.
Prada highlighted the importance of institutional support and the existence of well-organized multi-actor platforms with an adequate governance system so that they can reach agreements, like in Ecuador.
The secretariat of the FAO Global Banana Forum is, in this sense, acting as a neutral facilitator between the parties involved in the sector.