Fairtrasa Holland has an ambitious idea for this year. It wants to cultivate organic bananas without using any plastic. This company's subsidiary, Agricola Fairtrasa, is based in the Dominican Republic (DR). They export organic and organic Fairtrade bananas. These come from different farms. Fairtrasa has been working with these growers for several years. Agricola Fairtrasa has also had its own farm in the DR since 2017. Here, new trees are continually being planted.
"Fairtrasa has been toying with the idea of plastic-free production for some time," says a Fairtrasa representative. "Our enthusiasm is fed by our clients' positive reactions. They wholeheartedly support this initiative. After some research, it soon became clear that this project is technically feasible. The next challenge was to make it economically attractive. Fairtrasa decided to involve interested clients in this project."
Now, the first banana bunches are hanging in paper bags in the company's plantation in the Dominican Republic. "We are looking forward to harvesting them in about eight weeks. The main challenge is to outwit the insects. We do this by using organic substances to repel the insects." In a standard (non-organic) banana plantation, a plastic bag is hung over the green banana bunches.
"These bags are impregnated with a chemical insecticide. This not only keeps the 'harmful' insects away. It also poses a health risk to workers. These people have to work in tropical, moist conditions. Organic bananas are not only healthier for the consumer. They also ensure a pesticide-free working environment for farm laborers," says the Fairtrasa spokesperson.
Fairtrasa is a company that holds social values in high esteem. A social program has, therefore, been started on their farm. For every 18kg box of bananas sold, a fixed amount is put in a social fund. Workers are then consulted about what this money should be used for. "For now, the employees' primary livelihood is the most important issue. This fund is, therefore, mainly used for housing."
"In 2020, we are going to do several technical trials at the plantation. These are being done to prepare for the plastic-free project as well as possible. Production costs are estimated to rise by $0,50 per 18kg box. Fortunately, we have clients who are interested, despite the higher price. They want organic bananas with a social component. These will soon be cultivated using no plastic, too," concludes the company's representative. Research has also shown that Fairtrasa currently uses 300kg plastic/ha. In contrast, paper bags can be composted after use.
Fairtrasa will be at Fruit Logistica in Berlin. This trade show runs from 5 to 7 February 2020. People can see a banana bunch, enveloped in a compostable paper bab at Stand A04 in Hall 25.