In the global pineapple market that generates $2,000 million per year, Costa Rica dominates the landscape with two out of three pineapples coming from its very own producers. Within the country, there are more than 58,000 hectares dedicated to pineapple production, delivering 32,000 direct jobs and 120,000 indirect jobs to local producer communities and the nation at large.
However, the rapid expansion of this sector has brought about grave ramifications to the local communities that are reliant on its production. Besides the market-volatile wages and the sometimes precarious labour conditions, large-scale pineapple cultivation engenders significant environmental and social impacts in major production areas.
In fact, the country’s pineapple sector was characterized by widespread protests in 2009 due to the rampant use of pesticides and herbicides that seeped into regional waterways. Apart from the immediate damage this brought to the local ecosystem, these agrochemicals further triggered detrimental consequences to human health in many of the pineapple producing communities throughout the country.
Correspondingly, the Costa Rican government was called upon to take bold actions to redirect the sector from the business-as-usual scenario to one where pineapples are produced sustainably, and in accordance with the environmental health and wellbeing of its citizens.
Supported by the UNDP’s Green Commodities Programme, the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and Environment (MINAE) led the launch of the National Initiative for Sustainable Pineapple Production (Spanish acronym: INSP) in 2011. This initiative was the fruit of collaborative dialogue representing more than 50 institutions and 1,000 participants from a pool of both domestic and multinational changemakers. Among the said stakeholders were regional entities such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Spanish acronym: MAG), and global corporations such as Walmart and Dole. INSP creates spaces for national dialogue and transparency in the main regions where pineapple production is concentrated.
Following the development of the INSP, a pioneering National Action Plan for Strengthening Responsible Production and Trade of Pineapple was formalized in 2016. The Plan covers 12 agenda items, tackling the root causes of agrochemical contamination, unsolved labour rights, among other social and environmental challenges. The Plan was made official through a Presidential and inter-Ministerial Decree and is now underway: a high-level monitoring committee made-up of government, civil society and business representatives was set up to oversee its implementation.
With 11 lines of action, this ambitious plan tackles the root causes of issues such as dangerous chemicals seeping into waterways, labour rights and other social and environmental challenges preventing the pineapple sector from being sustainable. Boosting support to farmers through training and financial incentives is also a key aspect of this Action Plan.
Furthermore, the Plan also gave rise to the Monitoring of Land Use Change in Productive Landscapes (Spanish acronym: MOCCUP), a nationwide monitoring and evaluation system that supervises land use changes in more than 58,000 hectares of agricultural crops. Serving 95,000 users to date, the MOCCUP audits agrochemical contamination in the main waterways in 3 distinct cantons.
The Plan also develops ways to incentivise pineapple production residue management, supporting the implementation of the National Strategy for the Replacement of Single Use Plastics within the pineapple sector.
Learn more about the work of the Green Commodities Programme in Costa Rica in the 10th Year Anniversary At-A-Glance Country Guide.