Tropical Field Ecology in Costarica

La Virgen (Wed. 3/11/09) – Exploring an Organic Pineapple Plantation
by -- March 12th, 2009

Can plantation owned by a Texas company promote organic farming in Costa Rica and produce local benefits?

Can plantation owned by a Texas company promote organic farming in Costa Rica and produce local benefits?  Fair trade, organic produce has been promoted as a way to increase rural incomes while encouraging superior environmental practices. To explore some of these issues we visited Collin Street Bakery Finca Corsicana, a large organic pineapple plantation owned by Collin Street Bakery based out of Corsicana, TX.

Pineapple Rows

This pictures shows the drainage system for growing pineapples and the plastic used to cover the ground. A good drainage system is important to prevent the roots for rotting while the plastic is used to keep out weeds and pesticides from nearby farms.

Employing primarily local workers, the plantation produces over 38 million pineapples a year from over 3,000 acres.  About 70% of their produce is supplied to Dole under a 20 year contract.  They claim that all organic pineapple sold in Whole Foods Markets are from this site.  While all of the pineapples that come from Finca Corsicana are organic, this is not always identified on the packaging.  The guide explained that this helped to market their product.  He claimed that it is sometimes difficult to sell organic because consumers prefer pineapples that appear yellow, rather than the green hue their organic pineapples display.

A Organic Pineapple

A ripe organic pineapple in the field. The full cycle from planting to harvesting is about 16 months.

While we visited the fields and packing plant there was a notable absence of workers.  Our guide explained that there was a meeting to decide how to spend the money received from the fair trade certification (about 3 cents a pineapple).  Some of the proposals were to provide free public transportation, fund a computer learning center, and offer day care services.  While these are clearly important benefits for the community, it was uncertain how local leadership would be determined with such a large collection of workers.

Harvesting Pineapples

Our guide explains how pineapples are harvested.

Of course, the end of the tour involved a significant amount of fresh pineapple, fruit cake, and pure pineapple juice from hollowed pineapples.  What better way to convert you to the benefits of large scale organic farming?

4 Comments

  1. Jennifer Swenson
    Mar 13, 2009

    Pineapple (organic and conventional) is a growing issue in Costa Rica- I read in the paper here that estimated cultivated area in 2000 was ~12,000 ha, and by only 2006, that area had increased to ~40,000 ha!

  2. Direct Trade
    Mar 23, 2009

    Interestingly enough, fair trade coffee isnt the highest certification a grower can obtain. There is a special roaster in chicago, Intelligentsia who has a program called Direct Trade. If you look into it its actually a much better program than fair trade, just not as widely known. http://www.NeedCaffeine.com is the only place, as of right now, where you can buy these direct trade coffees online.

  3. Dr. Mohammed Selamat Bin Madom
    Aug 24, 2009

    Dear Sir, I like to know the method of your flower induction. The non-organic system uses ethephon for the flower induction. Do you use the same?. I believe that you are not using that system because ethepon is considered a chemical?. Please provide some comments. Thank you.

  4. Sales Tips
    Dec 21, 2010

    Thank u, good post! =)

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