Being an extreme banana enthusiast, I was extra enthusiastic about visiting the Dole banana plantation. This visit was so fascinating and made me love bananas even more (which I did not know was possible). Like coffee, the banana growing and harvesting procedures are much more time consuming and in-depth than I ever would have guessed. The nice thing about the banana growth process is that it does not need the additional steps like roasting and peeling as coffee does. It just requires a lot of time, energy, precision, and water to get the banana from the tree to the package in the proper way.
My visit to the plantation made me understand the amount of work and stress that goes into the bananas I eat every day. The plantation experiences many different struggles that they must overcome due to things out of their control such as overflooding from severe rain fall and disease entering the plants. The engineering and protocols of the plants are so amazing. For example, they have ditches built that fill with water in order to provide the bananas with the water that they need without flooding them, and by using natural pest management instead of chemical pesticides. I appreciate all the work the farm is doing so I can enjoy my delicious bananas every morning in my oatmeal and smoothies.
I was surprised to see Dole’s focus on the environment and sustainability. Besides the plastic used on the banana plants, they have great procedures in place to reduce their impact on the environment. For example, they recycle all of their plastic bags, do not use chemical pesticides, and are certified under the International Standard Organization. I was also so happy to see the benefits they provide for their workers. They pay their workers about twenty-eight dollars a day, with a tax that goes towards their retirement and medical insurance. This is great due to the stability of having a high salary and being paid by the day instead of by their picking ability like in the coffee industry. They also provide them with a house, running water, and electricity. The typical day of a Dole plantation worker in the packaging plant runs from about 6:30 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. In the plant their wash, package, and separate bananas. In the fields, a Dole plantation worker starts before 5 a.m., but they are finished by 11 a.m. I would prefer this job because it seems fun to ride around the cable with the bananas hanging on them powered by the horses and you get to do cool things, like cut down the plants with machetes (which I am already a professional at). I would much rather prefer to work in the banana plantation as compared to the coffee plantations due to the more reasonable hours, types of work, and compensation.