Dole Food Company says that 11 banana farms in Colombia and two in Ecuador have achieved certification to the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) International Water Stewardship Standard for taking water management to a higher level in Dole’s own farming and suppliers’ growing and sourcing operations.
The standard is intended to drive social, environmental and economic benefits at landscape level which encompasses all users of a particular water catchment, allowing them to better understand how their water use impacts others, and to work collaboratively and transparently for sustainable water management.
In the recently released 2020 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report, Dole identified water conservation and optimisation as the most relevant and impactful sustainable practice across its operations.
By adopting this water management standard, Dole and its growers continue to move progressively towards even more responsible water governance and mitigation of supply chain water challenges across banana operations. The knowledge and experience from these 13 farms will be shared across other Dole farming regions.
The achievement of the AWS certification is part of a multi-year collaboration program involving Dole and its growers along with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and food retailer EDEKA in Germany with the goal of driving sustainability in banana farms in Ecuador and Colombia. In addition to more sustainable water use, the program includes integrated crop cultivation management, conservation and promotion of ecosystems and biodiversity, climate protection, waste management and social aspects.
“Clearly there is now more pressure on local water resources also driven by global supply chain demand than any previous time in our history. Responsible stakeholders, including farmers, trader, retailers, municipalities, as well as individual citizens all recognise that only through collaboration and collective action can we maintain a healthy and robust supply of freshwater for people and nature,” says Johannes Schmiester, senior project manager water stewardship of WWF Germany.
“And we need leadership partners to plant a stake in the ground and commit to doing their part towards the sustainability of this vital resource on which we all depend.”
Xavier Roussel, vice president of marketing and sustainability for Dole Food Company, stated, “In farming there has always been a mutual dependence between neighbours, but AWS took those relationships to a higher level by formally creating local water platforms which rely on the same water sources. It is important to think beyond the borders of our farms. Many sustainability issues with which we deal need more holistic solutions and tight local collaborations to deliver improvements for all.”