Washington, DC, September 23, 2003.-
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of
the World Bank Group, is helping the banana producer Favorita improve environmental
and labor performance on small banana farms in Ecuador.
Through its Corporate Citizenship Facility, IFC is providing a $75,000
grant to help Favorita Fruit Company provide training courses to all of
its nearly 400 suppliers in regions throughout Ecuador. Roughly half the
bananas Favorita exports come from these independent farms, which complement
the company’s own plantations.
The training program is underway and is expected to be completed in October.
It has the potential to affect practices on over 18,000 hectares of plantations
and improve labor conditions for thousands of workers in the field. It
will also help ensure that Ecuador remains a viable exporter of bananas
in the face of consumer and investor concerns about environmental and labor
Courses focus initially on noncapital-intensive improvements to environmental
and labor practices and infrastructure, improvements that apply regardless
of the certification scheme at issue. The intent is to establish a base
from which the demands of markets in developed countries can be met. The
training courses also aim to familiarize small banana producers with current
expectations of the European, North American, and Japanese marketplaces
relative to good farming practices, environmental management, and social
Favorita Fruit is a long-time client of IFC and has a long-standing commitment
to environmental and social sustainability, having attained Rainforest
Alliance and ISO 14001 accreditations for its facilities.
During the launch of the training program, Favorita CEO Vicente Wong said,
“Independent farmers will always be an important part of Favorita’s
sourcing base, but only those that keep up with progress can survive in
Jean-Paul Pinard, Director of IFC’s Agribusiness Department, added, “Favorita
Fruit is a company that has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to environmental
protection, workers’ welfare, and the economic development of Ecuador.
This Corporate Citizenship Facility funding allows IFC to play a
more active role in supporting the good work done by clients like Favorita
to promote sustainable development.”
The Corporate Citizenship Facility is a fund that helps IFC's client companies
in the environmental, social, and labor dimensions of their operations.
The facility is funded by IFC and the governments of the Netherlands and
Harry Pastuszek, Policy Officer in IFC’s Environment and Social Development
Department and task manager for this Corporate Citizenship Facility project,
noted: “IFC fully supports Favorita’s initiative, because we want to
do what we can to ensure the small producers keep pace with the demands
of the marketplace.”
Other projects supported by IFC’s Corporate Citizenship Facility include
efforts to preserve the endangered sarus crane in Vietnam, to establish
a market for sustainably harvested herbal products from the Balkans, and
to help achieve fair trade certification for honey exporters in Kenya.
IFC's mission (www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable private sector investment
in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's
lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world,
mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients
improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding
in 1956, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged
$22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries.
IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY03 was $16.8 billion.