A committee made up of environmental organizations has submitted a resolution to the Costa Rican government urging different ministries to assess and regulate pineapple monoculture.
Crop monoculture is when farmers continue to grow a single crop year after year. In traditional farming or polyculture, agriculturists rotate crops yearly by planting dissimilar plants.
This allows the soil to replenish itself of elements that have been lost and prevents pests from thriving in the area, said Mariano Castor, advisor for the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas.
According to spokespersons for the Unión Internacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, Costa Rica is considered the main world producer of pineapples. In the last 10 years, the country has experienced an exponential increase in pineapple monocultures in the Northern zone, on the Caribbean and in the Brunca region.
Statistics from the Cámara Nacional de Productores y Exportadores de Piña show that the earned income from exporting the crop have grown from $148.5 million in 2001 to $725 million in 2011. This is a 388 percent increase.
The number of hectares produced has also increased 230 percent in the same time frame from 13,500 hectares to 45,000, indicated by statistics from the Secretaria Ejecutiva de Planificación Sectorial Agropecuaria, the environmental groups said.
The concern of the group is that the expansion of crops has led to sedimentation, erosion, water contamination, deforestation and displaced wildlife, spokespersons said.
“A few days ago, in Puntarenas, they found dead fish killed by pesticides used by the farmers,” said Castro. “Also, the pineapples attract fruit flies and they are attacking our cows.”
In the resolution, the organizations also maintain that the agrochemicals are finding their ways into wells and pipes thereby damaging the water quality. These same chemicals, which are also cancerous, are damaging the air quality for workers and residents of nearby towns, creating health issues, the organizations said.
This is not the first complaint. In 2009, the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo received 36 complaints against pineapple companies in San Carlos, Los Chiles, Miramar, Buenos Aires, Guápiles, Siquirres and Guácimo, said the organizations. This resulted in the temporary closure of some operations.
Also, in a related action, three women launched a complaint to the Sala IV constitucional court against the Costa Rican water and sewage companies as well as the various environmental organizations about the contamination of the water lines across the country.
The court ruled Monday after reviewing the evidence that articles 21, which guarantees the right to life, and article 50, the right to a healthy and economically balanced life of the Costa Rican Constitution had been violated, and that authorities must take action to locate the sources of fertilizer pollution and eradicate them.
The organization said it wants the Ministerio de Salud, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería and the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Mares to protect the health and water of persons by assessing the situation of the pineapple plantations and the effects that they are causing.
The ministries should also take united concrete actions to create regulations and control crop monoculture, they said.
The resolution was endorsed by the Centro de Derecho Ambiental y de los Recursos Naturales, Preserve Planet, Pretoma, Fundación Bandera Ecológica, Fundación para el Desarrollo Urbano, Terra Nostra, Universidad para la Cooperación Internacional, Sociedad Mesoamericana de Biología de la Conservación, Corredor Biológico Talamanca and Asociación Preservacionista de Flora y Fauna Silvestre.