WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2000 – An
Ecuadorian agribusiness which the International Finance Corporation has
financed, Reybancorp Agricolas, has become the first banana grower to receive
the Rainforest Alliance certification of complete compliance with rigorous
environmental and social standards.
Reybancorp which produces and exports bananas under the Favorita label
as well under other international brand names, has been certified "ecofriendly"
by the Rainforest Alliance and leading conservation groups in Latin America.
The Rainforest Alliance Better Banana Project certification recognizes
compliance with more than 200 specific social and environmental criteria,
including proper management of more than 17,000 acres of farms and clean,
safe working conditions for the 3,300 workers at Reybancorp, which is the
second-biggest fruit producer in Ecuador. It also salutes the company's
protection of wildlife, planting of a million native hardwood trees, stream
protection, erosion control and achieving the ISO 14000/SGS certificate.
IFC has provided loans and equity financing since 1992 to Favorita Fruit
Company, the parent company of Reybancorp, to help it take hold as a competitive
banana exporter. Most recently, IFC invested $15 million to help Favorita
develop its agriculture-related infrastructure, including making boxes
to pack the fruit and financing a deep-sea port to ship bananas and import
fertilizer. IFC loans are conditioned on World Bank Group environmental
and social standards.
"When we first obtained financing from IFC, the environmental standards
seemed like an obstacle, but we realize now that they have helped us build
a strong business," said Rafael Wong, Executive Vice President of
Favorita. "And in five years from now, there will be no access to
international markets for companies that do not show this respect for the
environment. It is becoming fundamental to international trade."
"The Conservation Agriculture Network certification program is transforming
the banana industry, and Reybancorp is a shining example of the kind of
environmental and social progress that has been made ", said Chris
Wille, Director of the Conservation Agriculture Program, Rainforest Alliance.
Favorita and Reybancorp are part of the Wong Group based in Guayaquil.
The company employs 8,000 people in its own farming and related operations,
and has an extensive program of buying from small independent outgrowers
in Ecuador, which is the world's biggest banana exporter.
The Better Banana Project is managed by the Rainforest Alliance and leading
conservation groups in Latin America. Reybancorp's 33 farms were certified
by the Corporacion de Conservacion y Desarrollo (Conservation and Development
Corporation) and the Rainforest Alliance, both members of the Conservation
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private
sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and
improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the
developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets
and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.