Carbon neutrality can make agribusinesses more competitive
San Jose, Costa Rica, October 13, 2014 (IICA). Efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and the development of public policies linking trade to environmental protection can help make small- and medium-scale agribusiness operators more competitive, according to specialists in agriculture, environment and trade from Latin America.
Representatives of the ministers responsible for these sectors from 16 countries in the region met at the Headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in Costa Rica to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) related to environment and the link between trade, technology, climate change and carbon neutrality.
“The aim of this meeting is to promote the adoption of trade measures that will benefit agricultural entrepreneurs and foster environmental protection,” observed Adriana Campos, an IICA specialist in policies and trade negotiations.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the WTO organized the workshop, assisted by the WTO Reference Centre at IICA, located in Costa Rica.
Delegates took part from Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The activity concluded with a field visit to San Carlos, Alajuela, where the participants learned about the experiences of Costa Rican exporting companies La Paz Frozen Tropical Fruits and Grupo PCI Rojas , which reduced their ecological footprint and obtained certification as carbon neutral operations.
La Paz Frozen Tropical Fruits, set up in 2005, exports frozen pineapples, papayas, mangoes, bananas, cassava and other root and tuber crops to retailers and processors in the U.S. and Europe. Its manager for development, Olman Briceño, pointed out that it was the first company in the world to export products of this kind and achieve carbon neutrality.
He added that one of the key areas on which the business focused was quality control. “You have to meet international standards, have certified farms and maintain product quality without neglecting the environmental factor,” he remarked.
“Achieving carbon neutral certification is part of our business model. It not only adds value to our products but also contributes to the area’s development,” he observed.
The Grupo PCI Rojas has also taken advantage of certification to add value to its products by means of sustainable practices. The firm specializes in the production and international marketing of fruits, roots and tubers.
To reduce its carbon footprint, it shortened the distances involved in shipping its products by changing the routes that it used, thereby slashing emissions by more than 50%. It also reduced the use of fertilizers, invested in more efficient electrical equipment and improved the management of agroindustrial waste.
“We now use the peel and skin of our products as organic waste, or sell them for use as feed to farms in the area. We also reduced our fuel costs and electricity bills,” pointed out Vidal González, head of quality and safety management at PCI Rojas.
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