Going Pineapples for Bananas

In the lowlands of Costa Rica, there are many banana and pineapple plantations scattered throughout. Having the chance to visit both types today, we learned about how these plantations operate. Both had a large focus on sustainable farming and put in great efforts to achieve the smallest environmental footprint possible. The main way both of these plantations did this was by composting. Doing so resulted in reduced waste and healthier crops.

The banana plantation was a small business set within a community of family members. Many members work on the plantation, and the plantation serves as the main source of food for most of them. In fact, during the pandemic they provided for their family by creating a variety of plantain based foods when they had a hard time selling their products. They were able to preserve these products longer, meaning that they had more time to sell or consume them. The pineapple plantation wasn’t a family business. Instead, they hired many Nicaraguans and provide them with work for the full years as that is how long pineapples take to grow.

Both plantations overcome and deal with threats like pests and diseases in order to successfully grow their crops. For example, the banana plantation has to tie their banana and plantain plants so that they don’t fall over. The reason they do this is because of a raccoon-like pest that eats the roots of their plants. Pineapple plants have a tendancy to destroy the soil beneath them if they aren’t being provided with the right nutrients so the pineapple plantation has to spray them with nutrients and take samples periodically to minimize the damage on the soil.

If I had to chose between working on a coffee, banana, or pineapple plantation, I would chose coffee. Not only is are the coffee fields partially shaded, but it is a more social job. When picking the rows of coffee each season, there’s usually someone in the row beside to talk to. With pineapple and banana plantations, I’m sure there are social aspects to them as well, but the labor is more intensive with chopping down banana plants and handling the spiky crowns of pineapples.

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