Fair trade and organic banana certification: BAM successes in the Dominican Republic

21 July, 2021

The success of the fair trade and organic certifications are the greatest achievements of the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) in the Dominican Republic according to the report prepared by Incatema Consulting & Engineering and its partner Agrer, responsible for developing the programme over the last 7 years. The report documents the success of the programme funded by the European Union and implemented in ten African and Caribbean countries, to foster sustainability in banana production as one of these countries’ main sectors.

“The support of the BAM programme in the Dominican Republic is a clear success story thanks to a wise combination of aid mechanisms and instruments, the implication of the private sector, research institutions, and international agencies. With a focus on very well-defined areas of results, the dynamic participation of banana associations, and an efficient georeferenced information system, the programme has had a notable impact on all levels, despite adverse weather events for two consecutive years, which have affected global productivity” points out Ana Romero, director of consulting projects at Incatema Consulting & Engineering.

Certain achievements are truly outstanding such as the success of the fair trade and organic certifications. “Given that 80% of banana sector producers are small operations, we can conclude that the strengthening of the banana associations has not only been a successful and efficient strategy, but also has been inclusive for small producers who would have found it difficult to obtain the required certifications individually”, affirms Romero.

Consequently, the Dominican Republic occupies the world’s first position in organic banana production, with volumes ranging between 280,000 and 300,000 tonnes sold on international markets in the period comprised between 2015 and 2017, representing about 60% of the total volume.

Training programme to improve producers’ technical capabilities

As part of the BAM programme, specific training courses have been developed and implemented, benefitting approximately 8,000 producers. This training programme touched on issues such as agricultural production, farms’ environmental management, Agricultural Development Plans (ADP), including technical support to facilitate the granting of loans by ADEMI Bank to banana producers. Relevant information was also collected to create a very effective GIS.

Other institutions also played an important role in developing the capacities of producers and producer associations. ISA, CODESPA, OIRSA and the Adobanano and Banelino associations have declared that they will continue to take part in strengthening the banana sector and will continue to apply the technical knowledge generated by the programme, thereby contributing to the appropriation and sustainability of the results.

The institutional reinforcement and training activities have played a fundamental role in strengthening the sector, with some important achievements:

• Improvement of management and administration capabilities. Both CODESPA and the JAD (Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana - Dominican Agribusiness Union) have contributed to this strengthening;

• Reduction of rejected bananas at the packaging station thanks to handling techniques and improvements in the organisation of producer associations;

• Economies of scale throughout the production cycle, including marketing;

• Facilities for small producers, through the 14 associations, to increase exports and develop the international markets, principally in the United States and European Union.

GIS Technology to fight the effects of climate change

The BAM programme has also established a climate alert system, SATEM (Early Warning System), to provide climate information to local farmers, offering them early warnings 72 hours in advance of heavy rains, flooding, storms or hurricanes. The system operates with an application for smartphones accessible to the public in general, which combines international weather forecasts with local information obtained from the local weather stations.