Organic bananas on 1000 ha
when sustainable agriculture matches huge production

Organic bananas on 1000 ha ; when sustainable agriculture matches huge production

Many professionals still associate organic, sustainable or climate smart agriculture with low productivity. They imagine an archaic agriculture destined for remote locations and not suited for the socio-economic needs of modern food companies. The following case study shows how organic agriculture can be highly productive for a large scale farm.

A leading agricultural company

In 2005, the agricultural company “Plantaciones del Norte” based in Mao in the Dominican Republic showed a monoculture of banana trees ; only few parcels recently planted with lemon and grapefruit trees existed but without any production yet.

All the parcels were equiped with cables and hooks to carry in an easy way the bunches of bananas to the packing units like in all the big banana trees farms.

This system was also used to carry the bags of compost inside the parcels.

70 tons were exported per day to US and Europe by containers and trucks were loaded for the local and the regional markets.

A total production around 25 000 tons per year.

 At the technical level

Banana trees are one of the tropical productions which is harvested along the year. There is no specific period; every day the bunches of bananas are harvested and fertilization, health protection and watering must be continuous.

The fertilization was realised with compost coming from outside the farms added with the residues of crops left on site to cover the soil of organic matter.

The banana trees needs a warm and humid atmosphere ; this environment gives also favourable conditions to fungus development. We faced like main health problem a fungal desease : the cercosporiose.

At the health level, the work was to find the balance between the development of the cercosporiose and the degradation of the leaves.

To facilitate the flow of the air eradicates the cercosporiose but an excessive wind degrades the leaves and reduces the production also.

It was a real preventive work during the implementation of banana trees in the parcels completed by a daily health survey.

A balanced fertilization with compost was also a reduction factor of deseases and pest attacks.

To complete these practices, wild land plots were located all around the banana trees parcels. These plots gave a perfect environment to develop the natural ennemies of the pests.

Bags with micro holes were used during specific period to avoid the damages given by biting insects.

At the social level

The company manpower was composed with dominican and haitian people. The policy was to pay similarly people without giving importance to the nationality ; this fact was very rare in Dominican Republic were haitian were neglected.

The company was covering health expenses for employees and their families. All these one were accomodated in houses closed to the farms. These houses were connected with water and electricity what is exceptional for rural area.

The company facilitated the access to education for the children of the employees, building school and paysing educational fees.

In conclusion

With its different engagements, the « Plantaciones del Norte» showed a perfect example of an alliance between a business development, a social responsability and an environmental action. It was a real example of a sustain development.

10 years after

The « Plantaciones del Norte » became one of the biggest dominican exportator of bananas with more than 300 containers of organic bananas per month and 700 employees.