Publication date: 01/06/2014
Hondupalma ECARA became the first company in producing palm oil farmers in Honduras, whose farms achieved Rainforest Alliance certification after complying with the guidelines of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), which protect the environment, wildlife and seek the welfare of workers.
The announcement was made by José Alfredo Torres, Certification Manager at the Institute for Cooperation and Self-Development (ICADE), the Honduran NGO representing SAN in this Central American country.
"Hondupalma is an agribusiness cooperative comprised of 30 little enterprises. It is a model of integration, production and processing organized by farmers who acquired the land in 1976 through a land reform after a concession of land devoted to banana was finished," he said.
For Torres, "this successful model of collective ownership of land and production is unique in the country and is an invaluable effort of this 30 companies have obtained the certification of Sustainable Agriculture, because it strengthens the success path of this company , which acts responsibly on environmental and social aspects in the sustainable production of palm oil ."
In Hondupalma, "producers (owners), employees and neighbors share the benefits of sustainable agriculture, and our wish is this new step will strengthen the bonds of unity of this organization," he added.
Palm oil is the most versatile and marketed oil, as it is used not only in the preparation of many foods, but to produce cosmetics, shampoo, soap and other items. Besides, in recent years it has been seen as an alternative to fossil fuels, used for the production of biofuels.
However, this crop has also earned social censure, as if responsible practices are not applied its production generates large deforestation and pollution. The main criticisms is that oil palm plantations promote logging and damage to soil and water sources, as well as the displacement of communities .
For these reasons Hondupalma decided that its production process would break with those practices and found in the Rainforest Alliance certification the best way to make a difference and show that in Latin America it is possible to produce palm without deforestation.
According to the Systems Management manager at the cooperative, Alex Osorio, "to Hondupalma and its 30 affiliated to implement SAN standards has been a great challenge” but "the economic and physical effort spent on the project is giving us the satisfaction of being the only union in the Central America working on palm sector to achieve this certification that qualifies us as a socially and environmentally responsible company."
"In addition, we get the benefit of being able to market our products with Rainforest Alliance Certified ™ seal, thus gaining a competitive advantage," he added.
Osorio explained that the Rainforest Alliance certification and dynamism that characterizes Hondupalma will allow the company advancing to achieve other goals such as maintaining the ISO 9001 certificate. In addition, the company aims to achieve RSPO, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 certifications.
"All this thanks to the Hondupalma family lives a philosophy of continuous improvement," he said.
In the certification process, Hondupalma made improvements in aspects such as standardization and management of good agricultural practices, better management of occupational safety and health, better relationships with communities and employees, protection of ecosystems and fauna as well as the better management of waste, always practicing continuous improvement in accordance with SAN standards.
Now, by having the Rainforest Alliance Certified ™ seal, the company has a differentiated product that will allow them to position themselves in the market as a company that produces sustainable palm and increase their competitiveness.