Friday, June 20, 2008

Costa Rican Bananas to Go Carbon Neutral


The Costa Rican banana industry is intending to go carbon neutral in a joint effort to make the small Central American nation the first to offset all its carbon dioxide emissions by 2021.

President Oscar Arias recently announced that Costa Rica aims to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2021, in time to celebrate the country 200 years of independence. A plan of action has already been approved and many projects are now underway to reach this target.

Costa Rica is an international leader on green issues, with protected areas like national parks and biological reserves covering more than a quarter of its territory. It is the first tropical nation to reverse deforestation. Thanks to conservation and replanting, its forest cover has increased from 21 percent in 1987 to 52 percent today. The banana industry�s contribution to conservation and reforestation is 6,305 hectares of replanted forests, 14.4% of the land used for banana plantations. The country also generates 78 percent of its energy with hydroelectric power and another 18 percent by wind or geothermal power. The next step is to cut emissions from transport, farming, and industry.

Bananas are Costa Rica's main agricultural commodity. As a result, the National Banana Corporation, CORBANA, has invested more than a million dollars on two new adjoined research facilities called the Biological Control Center and the Banana Molecular Biology Center. These new laboratories, created with funds from banana producers themselves, have been created to research on ways to reduce the use of chemicals in the production of bananas, since they strongly believe in sustainable farming and long-term development.

CORBANA, a public entity, has invested in new research into less chemical intensive methods of pest reduction. The research, which will explore alternatives such as natural fungus that fights off disease and pest in the field, will benefit the banana industry by offering a value-added product attractive to the European ma! rket.

Last year CORBANA successfully coordinated an exchange forum in Costa Rica with scientific delegates from 14 different countries, all looking for a solution to promote both sustainable production and food security world wide.

This forum lead Plant Research International Wageningen UR and the University of Wageningen, Netherlands, to develop a partnership with French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), France, Brazilian Agriculture Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), Brazil, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and the National Banana Corporation (CORBANA), Costa Rica, to reduce the use of pesticides in banana farming by 50% in 10 years.

Source: Corbana

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