Rainforest Alliance modifies 2020 certification program following criticism from LatAm banana sector
The Rainforest Alliance (RFA) recently released an explanation of the changes made to its 2020 certification program based on feedback from the Latin American banana sector.
According to the RFA website, 44 adjustments have been made to program documents to clarify and specify the requirements of the program, which will be included in guidance documents and a new version of the standard to be released in Jan 2021.
The alliance also says that it is currently collecting input for guidance documents on topics such as shared responsibility, energy use, and integrated pest management which are set to be published at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
Additionally, the RFA states that it adjusted policies and deadlines based on the feedback it’s received, such as the policy on the transition to the 2020 certification system.
Banana certificate holders will have until June 30, 2022 to undertake their first audit after the standard becomes binding in July 2021. In the interim, they will only be required to comply with core requirements.
The deadline for implementing the shared responsibility chapter of the standard was also moved to the first contract cycle after July 2021 to align with general timelines for making new contracts in the banana sector.
These changes come as the result of several meetings with importers, exporters, and small-scale banana farmers.
The first of these meetings took place in July 2020 when RFA representatives met with banana sector organizations from Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Ecuador, which together account for 65 percent of world banana production.
The meeting occurred amid criticism by Latin American banana associations regarding the standard-setting process. It was also accused of not taking into account the opinions and realities of those involved in the industry.
Since then, the RFA has hosted additional meetings with banana sector organizations and farms, including eight country-specific meetings and four technical meetings over the course of July and August.
Moving forward, the Rainforest Alliance says that it will continue to collaborate with the banana sector to dive deeper into various topics.
It plans to run several pilots with international retailers to test and make adjustments to its shared responsibility approach. Additionally, training for current certificate holders and potential new members in Latin America will start in January 2021.