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BP > CHIQUITA BRANDS: a Model to Improve the Environment and Health in Costa Rica

By in World Forum Lille on September 20, 2012

Background:

Chiquita Brands is a corporation that produces and commercializes fresh fruit (mainly bananas) for more than 100 years. Now present in 70 countries with 21,000 employees (5,000 of them in Costa Rica. Beyond its core business, the company invest in local biodiversity and economic development, and also in community health.

The Reserve Nogal from the environmental project “Nature and Community” is located in the Costarican Caribbean zone called Sarapiqui, where the main economic activity is the agriculture and animal husbandry, and where, it is then vital to balance the use of land and water resources.

Regarding its indigenous employees population, the majority of them work in 3 estates in the frontier with Panama. For cultural reasons, the male head of families do not allow that women are visited my male doctors, for this reason it was a priority to develop a project to deliver health care and vaccination to families, without interfering with their beliefs or traditions.


Objective (s):

1) Preserve the biodiversity in the long-term, sensitize by environmental education, generate opportunities for additional income, promote the local community participation, become a cooperation model.

2) Promote a concept of employee’s integral health, extending the concept to his family.


Approach:

1) Since 2004 Chiquita has lead the development of the project “Nature and Community” in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Costa Rica. The project rises from an alliance between Chiquita Brands, government, community and the retail chain Migros, along with the sponsor of the German entity GTZ.

The refuge covers 100 hectares of secondary forest and hosts 56 families that live in the communities of Nogal and Guayacán who participate voluntarily in activities to preserve the ecosystem (for instance to the union of isolated forest fragments creating a biologic pathway) as well as in the administration of art craft micro-companies.

2) Since 2008, in the frontier region of Sixaola, Chiquita has developed projects as the health care programs for the indigenous people in Gnobe. In this project the health care providers have been only women in gynaecology, deontology and pediatrics, to facilate that employees’ wifes and daughters that receive medical examinations are not rejected by their husbands and fathers. For this integral health program, the important feature was to find a medical services provider with the ability to adapt to the indigenous population’s needs.


Factor(s) keys to success:

The success of these programs has come from the integration of disciplinary teams inside the company with the advice of external experts. The most complex has been to integrate the public institutions in private initiatives for environmental conservation and social development.

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