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IFC and Favorita Fruit Help Independent Banana Farms in Ecuador Increase Sustainability of Operations


Contact in IFC Washington DC:
Adriana Gomez

Phone:+ (202) 458 5204

E-mail:
agomez@ifc.org


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 issues.


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 accountability.  


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 today’s marketplace.”


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 Norway.  


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.

Contact in Favorita, Ecuador:
Monica Molineros
Phone: +(593) 4 2208670 ext. 1074
Mobile:+(593) 9 9952882
E-mail: mmolineros@grupowong.com