Water footprint assessment of bananas produced by small banana farmers in Peru and Ecuador

L. Clercx, E. Zarate Torres, J.D. Kuiper
In 2013, Good Stuff International (GSI) carried out a Water Footprint Assess-ment for the banana importer Agrofair and its foundation TASTE (Technical Assis-tance for Sustainable Trade & Environment) of banana production by small farmers in Peru and Ecuador, using the methodology of the Water Footprint Network (WFN). The objective was to investigate if the Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) can help define strategies to increase the sustainability of the water consumption of banana production and processing of smallholder banana producers in Peru and Ecuador. The average water footprint was 576 m3 t-1 in Ecuador and 599 m3 t-1 for Peru. This corresponds respectively to 11.0 and 11.4 m3 per standard 18.14 kg banana box. In both samples, approximately 1% of the blue water footprint corresponds to the washing, processing and packaging stage. The blue water footprint was 34 and 94% of the total, respectively for Ecuador and Peru. This shows a strong dependency on irrigation in Peru. The sustainability of the water footprint is questionable in both countries but especially in Peru. Paradoxically, the predominant irrigation practices in Peru imply a waste of water in a context of severe water scarcity. The key water footprint reduction strategy proposed was better and more frequent dosing of irrigation water. This will generate increased water productivity and better quality of banana fruits. The increased water productivity not only decreases the blue water footprint, it also improves the competitiveness and livelihoods of small banana producers and their families in Peru and Ecuador.
Clercx, L., Zarate Torres, E. and Kuiper, J.D. (2016). Water footprint assessment of bananas produced by small banana farmers in Peru and Ecuador. Acta Hortic. 1112, 21-28
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1112.1
environment, water scarcity, water footprint, banana (Musa spp.), irrigation, water management

Acta Horticulturae