Round table on sugarcane: working conditions in the sugarcane Industry

18 June 2014

Last June 10, Fairfood International, as part of the Treat Them Sweet project, organised in Amsterdam the first multi-stakeholder event to discuss the Working Conditions affecting the Central American Sugarcane Industry. The event was very successful and attracted the participation of local and International non-profit organisations, members of the scientific community, health institutions and sustainability initiatives.

The event had been organised with the objective of creating a forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest research findings on the working conditions in the sugarcane industry in Central America as well as being about the epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of non Traditional Causes (CKDnT) – also known as Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin (CKDu)- which seriously affects sugarcane workers in Nicaragua and Central America.

Fairfood had the privilege of engaging high profile speakers and experts on the above-mentioned topics, such as researchers from the Nicaraguan University (UNAN), the Pan American Health Organisation and La Isla Foundation. The presentations gave rise to great interest in the subject among participants and lead to an opportunity for meaningful conversations and discussions.

Fairfood is content that it is recognised that working conditions in the Nicaraguan sugarcane industry are harsh and that wages are not sufficient to meet workers’ basic needs. In addition, the scientific community confirmed that there is already much knowledge of the disease CKDnT. Nevertheless, more resources have to be allocated in order to continue with research. Furthermore, speakers agreed that now is the right moment to act, and that different stakeholders have to join forces in order to obtain more leverage.

As a result of the event, Fairfood International will work collaboratively with other non-profit organisations and institutions in order to find the best practices that can bring about a positive change for sugarcane workers. Besides, Fairfood will concentrate its efforts on speaking to and influencing companies that produce and source sugar from the region to determine how best to address the harsh working conditions on sugarcane plantations in Central America.