TOWARDS A MORE SUSTAINABLE BANANA - LIMITATIONS AND STRENGTHS OF A TERRITORIAL APPROACH
In the debate on sustainable supply chains of tropical agricultural products, important issues emerge: sustainable land and water use, maintaining biodiversity, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, waste disposal and recycling, reduction of agrochemicals, integrated pest management, nutrient cycles, soil conservation and so forth. International certifications in tropical fruits such as GlobalGAP, Rainforest Alliance, organic or fair-trade, have various limitations: (1) they acknowledge these emerging issues only partially; (2) the standards are uniform and do not take into account the heterogeneity of contexts and of opportunities to build up more sustainable supply chains; (3) these certifications are focused on the farm, the product or the producer organization, but not on the territory, the watershed, the agro-ecosystem and the wider context of local and regional institutional settings. To address these limitations, Agrofair and the TASTE Foundation conducted in-depth case studies of organic and fair-trade certified production systems, in their territorial settings in Peru and Ecuador. North Peru is an arid zone which heavily depends on irrigation, with smallholders who cultivate banana plots of 1 ha in monoculture systems. In South Ecuador, a semi-humid zone was studied, with medium sized producers (5-10 ha) and agroforestry systems (cocoa-forest-banana) in the hillsides. In a second dimension of the study, a rapid survey among five supermarkets in The Netherlands and Belgium and one procurement organization was carried out, to assess the feasibility to introduce a banana with a kind of denomination of origin: mountain-grown banana (Ecuador) or savannah-grown banana (Peru). Could these denominations be carriers of specific sustainability messages (on top of the organic and fair-trade labels)? The survey learned that the retail sector is not looking for complex messages or specific branding: these bananas may have their origin in very different regions, but are all genetically identical Cavendish bananas. However, there are signs that supermarkets are receptive for a more comprehensive approach to a more sustainable banana. This would open new action perspectives for a territorial approach and promotion of a banana with added environmental value.
Clercx, L. and Huyghe, B. (2013). TOWARDS A MORE SUSTAINABLE BANANA - LIMITATIONS AND STRENGTHS OF A TERRITORIAL APPROACH. Acta Hortic. 986, 353-362
Ecuador, environment, marketing, mountain, organic production systems, Peru, savannah, supply chains