Big changes are happening in the banana farming industry. As the availability of fresh water continues to decrease, there is a need to think more conservatively about water use. This has lead some in the banana farming industry, including Chiquita and Fyffes, to seek alternatives to traditional water use.
Chiquita Brands International, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is taking action to reduce its water use by 1.7 billion liters per year. To do so, Chiquita has pledged to reduce irrigation by only applying water to its plants when it is necessary. The company has also switched from overhead irrigation, which has proven to be wasteful, to other techniques, including using ground cover and mulch to reduce evaporation of water from the soil.
Chiquita has also made the switch to using ‘greenwater’, which is sourced from rainfall, on some of its farms, including ones in Costa Rica and Panama.
Ireland-based brand Fyffes is taking additional measures at its Costa Rican banana farm, Finca Esmeralda, to reduce water consumption by 80% through the use of water recycling systems. The closed-water recycling system is one of the first of its kind to be used on a Costa Rican banana farm, and has helped the farm to reduce its water use from 200 to 40 liters per box of bananas. The system, like many water recycling systems, uses various tanks and water treatment stages to ensure that sanitation and cleanliness standards are maintained. Chiquita is also working to increase water recycling, and has installed such systems in 26% of its packing stations.
Both Fyffes and Chiquita’s actions come at a great time, as more and more individuals and companies are looking to think more strategically about water use. Their announcements, which aligned with World Water Day on March 22, are likely to be joined by others, as the demand for water conservation efforts increases.
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