At the beginning of 2020, two banana farms in Ecuador that are participating in the project of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the German supermarket chain Edeka to achieve sustainability in Ecuador's and Colombia's banana cultivation, obtained the AWS certification, a standard created by the Alliance for Water Stewardship global network.
The Elba and Encarnacion farms from Ecuador are the first to be certified under this international standard in the world. This sets an important precedent to ensure sustainability in the cultivation of this fruit in Ecuador, where banana production employs 17% of the economically active population.
The certification seeks to promote responsible water stewardship that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, and economically beneficial via an inclusive process with multiple actors. The actions promoted by the certification not only cover the direct environment of banana farms but also the basins of their rivers expanding the producer's commitment. The rest of the farms participating in the project will be certified next year.
“Currently, the two certified farms continue to produce with a more comprehensive vision regarding the impact of their activities at the production site and basin level, incorporating more participatory management with stakeholders. They have recirculation systems for processing water, saving up to 80% of the water compared to packing plants that do not have this infrastructure,” stated Sandra Lima, the Certification Manager at Dole Ecuador.
The WWF has been working with the Dole Food Company, the largest banana production company in Ecuador, and Edeka since 2014 with the aim of producing export bananas that have the high standards of sustainability by implementing the best socio-environmental practices that meet the Objectives of United Nations Sustainable Development.