Guatemala-based One Banana Co. is as dedicated to being a responsible grower as it is to producing delicious bananas, said Bernardo Roehrs, corporate director of AgroAmerica, the firm"s parent company.
The family-owned company was founded by Fernando Bolaños in 1958 producing only bananas. AgroAmerica began producing palm oil in 1998 and pineapples in 2001 in addition to bananas. Today, the firm is run by his sons Fernando, CEO, and Gustavo, chief operating officer.
One Banana Co. was formed to handle the firm"s banana operations in 2014.
The company grows 20,000 acres of bananas, 865 of which are organic, which the company began shipping from Peru in July.
One Banana Co. partners with Dole and Del Monte and also markets its own fruit in the U.S. and in countries throughout the world, Roehrs said.
But besides growing bananas, the company strives to support and create better opportunities for its more than 8,000 year-round workers.
The company works toward "a greater collective good" for employees, for the environment and for the communities where One Banana Co. grows its fruit, Roehrs said.
Between 2012 and 2014 alone, the company donated nearly $5 million dollars to corporate social responsibility programs through AgroAmerica, he said.
The company"s corporate social responsibility initiatives include:
- Working toward achieving United Nations" Millennium Development Goals of nutrition and child mortality
- Expanding the recently opened human development center in Retalhuleu, Guatemala
- Partnering with University of Colorado Medical School to offer low-cost medical, dental, pediatric, maternal care and pharmaceutical services to employees and members of the surrounding Guatemalan communities
- Implementing the Safe Water Project in Guatemala, an educational program to teach the public about the necessity of consuming clean water, and which provides residents with extremely low-cost water filters. The company hopes to implement programs in Ecuador and Peru, as well
- Forming a partnership with Water and Sanitation Health, a Seattle-based nongovernment organization, and providing additional funds to ensure the sustainable delivery of long-term filters to communities throughout Guatemala
- Funding and creating the Fernando Bolaños School for the children of One Banana Co. employees, who receive free private primary and secondary education
- Launching the Nutritious School Snack Program, a banana donation initiative in partnership with local public elementary schools in Guatemala
- Building and maintaining employee-run cooperatives offering a variety of sellable goods and services and
- Forging a strategic partnership with USAID and offering community outreach programs for the donation of firewood saving stoves and clean water advocacy.
One Banana Co. also has implemented a number of environmental and sustainable initiatives, Roehrs said.
The company is the only banana company to have all of its production certified by Rainforest Alliance and GlobalG.A.P., he said.
All of its farms and operations have launched water efficiency and sustainable water-management practices, and advanced irrigation techniques have reduced the company"s water usage by at least 25%, he said, and lowered fuel consumption.
The firm also plans to introduce precision agricultural methods that can identify moisture levels in real-time.
Finally, the company has implemented a number of carbon-footprint reducing measures, like decreasing its plastic bag consumption by 60% by introducing eco-friendly reusable Agribon bags to cover the bananas during harvest. And 70% of the company"s banana plants are reused as organic matter, which reduces the need for traditional fertilizers.