THE BANANA SECTOR IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Same as any other crop, growing bananas cannot be done without water. For a sustainable banana trade it is of course essential to be conscious of the use of water. For that reason, AgroFair was excited when, in July last year, we were invited by the organization “Dominica Competes” to carry out a water footprint study of the banana sector in the Dominican Republic.
The study was done together with our old acquaintance Good Stuff International (GSI), a small international company that specializes in water footprint assessments and sustainable watershed management. GSI performed a similar study on our behalf among small banana farmers in Ecuador and Peru in 2013.
Funding for the study was provided by the European Union through an EU framework called “the Banana Accompanying Measures program (BAM)”. The program works to strengthen the competitiveness of the banana sector in 10 ACP countries (ACP stands for Africa, Caribbean, Pacific).
BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE FOR DISTRIBUTION OF WATER
TO IMPROVE THE BANANA’S WATER FOOTPRINT
We collected information on the banana water footprint through a representative survey that was carried out by Dominica Competes, followed by a discussion workshop. The survey was done among 100 banana farmers in the main banana producing regions of the Dominican Republic. The majority of these farmers depend on flood irrigation for their production, suffering from excess water during some periods and water shortage during other periods of the year. In their response, most producers said that they feel affected by climate change and are concerned about water scarcity for irrigation in the future.
To discuss the results of the survey and in order to learn more about the producers concerns, AgroFair and Domenica Competes organized a workshop in April. It became clear that, in order to guarantee banana production in the future, we need to zoom in on two levels. One is on the macro level of the watersheds: sustainable water management came up as a major factor. On the level of the farms themselves, items needing to be addressed to help improve the banana’s water footprint turned out to be: better infrastructure for the distribution of water, the introduction of precision irrigation and soil covers.
We are very happy with the results of both the study and the workshop. We feel that steps were taken towards a better awareness on the importance of sustainable water management among the main stakeholders of the banana export industry in the Dominican Republic, preparing everyone for a future with a wiser use of water.