Since the publication of the 2020 Certification Program, the Rainforest Alliance has held more than 15 technical meetings with many participants from banana sector organizations and farms. These meetings have given the Alliance the opportunity to have constructive discussions on key elements of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard. Their goal is to ensure that banana growers around the world are using the full power of the standard so that together the positive social, environmental, and economic impact be maximized.
Pilots and training
In the first quarter of 2021, the Rainforest Alliance is planning to run several pilots with international retailers to see how their shared responsibility approach works in practice and to adjust their guidance and trainings accordingly. The trainings of current certificate holders and potential new members in Latin America will start in January 2021.
Actions taken by the Rainforest Alliance based on feedback
Every piece of feedback received by the Rainforest Alliance helps them make the program better. To date, the meetings have allowed them to identify 44 adjustments they can make to program documents in order to clarify and specify the requirements. These improvements will be incorporated in the guidance documents and version 1.1 of the new standard (to be published by January 2021).
As a result of the meetings and pilots, they have also developed new policies and adapted timelines to support implementation for banana farms and companies, for example:
- Policy on the transition period to the 2020 Certification System for banana certificate holders
- Moved deadline for implementing the shared responsibility chapter of the standard to the first contract cycle after July 2021
Additionally, they are currently collecting input for guidance documents on:
- Shared responsibility (to be published in the first quarter of 2021)
- Energy use (to be published by December 2020)
- Integrated Pest Management (to be published by December 2020)
They are also addressing a challenge that a number of banana farmers are facing to eliminate some of the prohibited pesticides in the short-term by developing an ‘exceptional use’ policy. Farmers have been invited to submit their requests for the exceptional use of pesticides until the end of 2020.
Finally, they are looking into feedback they received on the aerial application of pesticides and the use of drones. The related requirements and definitions may be fine-tuned based on their research and further consultation with the sector.
In the weeks and months ahead, the Rainforest Alliance looks forward to continuing the dialogue with the banana sector and diving deeper into topics like how Rainforest Alliance Certified smallholders can be further supported, how the Integrated Pest Management approach can be applied in relevant contexts, and more.
“We remain committed to the continuous improvement of our certification program to drive real change on the ground—in collaboration with farmers, companies, and other members of our alliance,” the organization states.