Day O!

Bananas and pineapples have a slightly different supply chain than coffee. In banana and pineapple production, the chain begins with the farm, just like it does for coffee, but from the farm “the beautiful bunch of ripe bananas [and pineapples]” goes directly to a shipping company. In coffee production, the coffee is grown and then sent to a roaster. Then coffee is sent to a shipping company. Coffee has an extra step in the production process, but both are shipped to local and worldwide markets.

Coffee plantations, at least Doka, gave workers housing and free daycare. Doka also limited the use of chemicals by implementing solutions such as placing trees to distract insects. Also, the smaller coffee plantations like Don Guillermo’s in Monteverde placed a great emphasis on tours to educate people about the growing process and sustainability in agriculture; they partnered with many organizations to educate students. They also used compost, disease-resistant hybrid plants, and organic fertilizers. The banana plantation also utilized organic compost and organic fertilizer. In addition, the banana plantation used every inch of space they had to grow crops; they were growing many herbs and fruits in the spaces between the banana crops. As for the community, they hired many local workers and offered tours to educate people on the farming process. The pineapple plantations utilized plastic to cover the ground which eliminated the use for herbicides. The plantation we visited had a organic certification signifying they limited their use of chemicals.

Bananas have a major threat of being attacked by diseases or bugs, like mal Panama or “deadly black tarantulas”. The insects were dealt mostly by using plants around the perimeter of the field to distract them from the crops. Diseases which attack banana crops are mostly a fungus and pose a major problem because the banana is a monocrop. Banana workers, to prevent the spread of the disease, will fertilize the crops with a fertilizer made from bananas. They will also clean their machetes and shovels after handling each plant and they will dispose of leaves in a compost pile far away from the crops. The compost pile is under plastic and will kill any bacteria. Pineapples can be harmed by many small pests which can be dealt with by the spraying of insecticides (however the plantation may lose organic certification).

If I was a worker I would most likely choose to be a coffee worker rather than a banana or a pineapple worker. After being in both areas where bananas and pineapples are grown and where coffee is grown, I feel the coffee plantation would be a much better place to work. To start, the coffee plantations are high in the mountains so are much cooler than in the lowlands with bananas and pineapples. To beat the heat in the banana plantations you would have to work at night until “daylight come and me want to go home”. Also, at some of the plantations, at least Doka, the coffee workers received housing and daycare for their children. It seems that coffee plantations have more accommodations with the climate and the owners. The coffee also seems less physically intensive because the beans are light. I would be caring a cajuela along the entire time but “stacking banana til the morning come” seems worse because the bananas are much heavier. I would still (most likely) pick coffee even from the perspective of a Nicaraguan worker traveling across the border. It is much more expensive to take a bus to the Central Valley to the coffee plantations than go to an area close to the border for a different farm. I feel the temperature makes all the difference.

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