Fairfood goes public with ‘Land of Promise’ campaign

20 August 2013

What is The Land of Promise Campaign?

The Land of Promise Campaign was initiated by Fairfood International with the support of the Dutch National Postcode Lottery in 2011 in order to make pineapple production on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines more sustainable. Mindanao, also known as the Land of Promise due to its tropical climate and fertile soil, is one of the biggest pineapple producers worldwide. The pineapple industry has the potential to bring great prosperity to the Philippines; however, in reality workers experience exploitative working conditions and the agrochemicals used are causing environmental damage. Food production is only sustainable if it ensures fair treatment of workers and protects the environment, therefore, Fairfood is urging pineapple producers and retailers to take responsibility for the abuses in their supply chains and make positive changes that benefit both people and nature.

About Mindanao and the pineapple industry

  • Mindanao is the second largest and southernmost island in the Philippines
  • Pineapple is grown in most of the regions of the Philippines, but about 95% is grown on Mindanao
  • The Philippine pineapple industry is worth $2Bn USD annually
  • The total area of pineapple production on Mindanao was 50,000 hectares in 2010. This rate has been growing steadily, but the exact amount is hard to tell, because the multinationals often refuse to disclose new leasehold and expansion areas
  • There are 40,000 workers in the pineapple industry on Mindanao, but many more families are dependent on the industry
  • The industry is dominated by foreign multinationals and supermarkets are particularly responsible for many of the issues we see in Mindanao

What we know now

Fairfood has been to Mindanao and visited pineapple plantations, met with locals and experts, heard the stories of workers and organised two stakeholder conferences. What we know now is that the pineapple industry in Mindanao is not benefiting all workers on the ground. Since the start of our work on the pineapple supply chain in 2011, we have heard the stories of workers who are facing insufficient income, insecure labour contracts, unreasonable working hours and dangerous working conditions. As a result of income insufficiency, many workers resort to sending their children to work on the plantations to supplement the family’s income. The Land of Promise campaign team is working with partners in Mindanao to address these issues and ensure fair and sustainable production in the pineapple sector. Fairfood has already begun preliminary talks with companies in the supply chain to bring change to the situation.

Awareness-raising

In order to be effective, we need the support of consumers. The more consumers express their desire to buy sustainably sourced pineapples, the more companies will listen to these demands. Fairfood is starting its awareness-raising with the Dutch public and using social media to create a spin-off worldwide. This is because The Netherlands is a major player in the importing and re-exporting of pineapples from Mindanao. That is why we think it’s important that Dutch consumers are aware of this so they know what it is they are buying: pineapples produced with long working days, low pay, and child labour.

Our goal:

Fairfood calls on the companies involved to work closely with their suppliers to address human rights issues for farmers and farm workers in Mindanao and ensure that all workers are given contracts and paid fair wages irrespective of the marketing deals done at retail level. This shall also eliminate the need for child labour. Workers must be allowed to organize to negotiate for a better deal without the fear of losing their jobs,  threats or actual violence. All agrochemicals which have been banned in the US and the EU must no longer be used in the pineapple sector and workers exposed to approved agrochemicals must be adequately trained and appropriately protected with safety equipment. Finally, watchdog organisations like Fairfood must be allowed to monitor that these actions are genuinely being carried out.

What’s next?

During this phase of the campaign, it is our hope to create greater awareness about the issues surrounding pineapple production and the harsh realities unsustainable pineapple production has created for workers in Mindanao. Our efforts into raising awareness on the issues in the Mindanao pineapple industry coincide with the finalisation of our research into the specific practices of companies in this industry. With the support of concerned consumers and our partners, Fairfood will be ready for the next step: engaging directly with the companies who must make the changes needed to ensure that Mindanao can truly become the Land of Promise.

You can follow the Land of Promise through our website: http://landofpromise.fairfood.org.

Contacts:

Mel Francis, campaign manager: mel.francis [at] fairfood.org, +31 621 170 211

Verie Aarts, campaign communications: verie.aarts [at] fairfood.org, +31 653 618 335