Transforming Suriname’s pineapple industry

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Since 2018, the UN has been working with indigenous & rural communities in Suriname to enhance the country’s pineapple sector at the request of the Government.

Suriname is a small island developing state on the Northeast Coast of South America, with 95% of its land covered by forest. Most of its population is concentrated in the coastal areas, with the interior regions still underdeveloped and suffering from poverty and unemployment.

The National Policy Development Plan aims to enhance the country’s social and economic resilience identifying agriculture and agribusiness as key development areas, with pineapple being one of the key commodities of the country, especially for the inner regions.

Since 2018, in response to the request of the Government of Suriname, FAO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have supported the pineapple sector under the Agrifood Systems Accelerator (ASTA) Suriname, a joint value chain (VC) development initiative. This included extensive analysis, upgrading design and initial implementation activities, which culminated in the development of the ‘’Sustainable Pineapple Value Chain Development Joint Programme in Suriname’’ – ASTA Suriname project – financially supported by the UN Joint SDG Fund.

Supporting organic pineapple production by indigenous and rural communities across Suriname’s pineapple belt, the project aims to facilitate the country’s transformation from a marginal pineapple producer – characterized by traditional growing practices, little value-addition and no exports – to an established producer and exporter of high quality organic fresh and processed pineapples. Applying an inclusive, sustainable value chain approach, the programme will enable pineapple VC actors, notably indigenous producers, to increase their productivity, competitiveness, and access to markets.

A recent FAO field mission enabled collaborative efforts of United Nations Resident Coordinator Ms Joanna Kazana and the team from FAO and UNIDO implementing the ASTA Suriname project. Ms Kazana was joined by Ms. Margherita Bavagnoli, International Value Chain Finance Expert from the Food Systems and Food Safety Division (ESF) of FAO HQ to supervise the implementation of the project activities primarily in the indigenous village of Redi Doti, in the Para district of Suriname.

FAO’s national agronomist, Ms. Hemwatie Goeptar, facilitated the visit showcasing the benefits of Surinamese pineapple varieties improvement, incorporating mechanical land preparation, staggered planting, and artificial flower induction for year-round production. The visit targeted the plot of Mr. Renaldo Mandé, an indigenous farmer supported by the FAO-UNIDO project to implement organic pineapple production practices in his farm and the whole indigenous community of Redi Doti, in central Suriname.

The project introduced climate-resilient agronomic practices that sustainably increase productivity and quality. Hands-on farmer training and an on-ground trial plot demonstrated effective techniques like soil enhancement, optimal input use, and planting pineapple in beds. This advances transitions for responsible consumption and production (SDG 12). The ASTA Suriname project trainings on good agricultural practices and organic production empowered 120 marginalized indigenous women and youth to effectively participate in and benefit from the evolving pineapple value chain.

The processing facility of the Women Cooperative Redi Doti and Pierre Kondre, Asajaka Weno Verwerking U.A., located in the indigenous village Pierre Kondre, was also a pivotal stop during this field mission. Engaging with the women cooperative’s chair, Ms. Claudia Maatsen, the team learned about the cooperative’s operations, which involve purchasing fresh fruits from women farmers in the community and processing them into fresh and natural juice, pulp, and frozen cuts of pineapples.

The emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices and engagement with indigenous communities underscores the mission’s commitment to significantly contribute to the realization of SDG goals, fostering a more resilient and equitable agrifood system.

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