A fast-track to sustainable pineapple production for Surinamese farners
25 October 2022
Suriname: Sustainable pineapple production with significant potential for growth.
Suriname, a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America, is considered the birthplace of pineapples. Although the area of pineapple production is small, the genetic diversity is extraordinary, and the growth potential is significant.
Cultivated mainly by the indigenous population living in the Savannah Belt, especially the Lokono (Arawak) and Kaliña (Caraiben) peoples, the pineapple offers great prospects for improving livelihoods – which embodies a potential that the United Nations system is working to unlock.
Since 2018, in collaboration with relevant ministries, FAO and UNIDO, in partnership with ILO and UNFPA, have engaged with Surinamese farmers and other stakeholders to analyze the pineapple value chain and facilitate the development of a joint 2030 vision for the sector.
There are over 15 unique pineapple varieties currently grown organically in Suriname. This holds huge potential for tapping into export markets. Nevertheless, the project also foresees securing varieties and genetic rights from a legal perspective. It also maps out a certification process to ensure indigenous peoples and other farmers in Suriname do not lose their unique varieties as they grow in popularity.
The project comprises various components, such as financing (attracting and de-risking SDG-compliant investments into the pineapple value chain in order to increase productivity and income of smallholder farmers) and more hands-on methods, such as in the form of a Pineapple Innovation Hub (a local foundation will provide tailored agronomic and business support and management services to farmers).
In his opening remarks at the project launch, the UN Resident Coordinator ad interim, Dennis Zulu, said:
"At the United Nations, we are committed to supporting, to accompany, and to pioneering new ways of facilitating linkages between value chain actors and service providers, strengthening and institutionalizing knowledge in local institutions, and contributing to a conducive policy environment. But we need to do it together and certainly cannot do it without each other."
From 'Pineapple Innovation Hub' to market
One of the first concrete steps taken by the project has been developing farming training materials for indigenous peoples, building off Costa Rica’s experience in organic pineapple production. The next step has been fostering collaboration with international financial institutions to bring in the necessary finance. The last step is a scientific analysis by FAO of the varieties grown and the soils that produce them to optimize the go-to-market journey of products.
The future of pineapple cultivation in the area “will surely continue to grow because I already see more young ones heading in that direction,” says Wendolien Sabajo, Captain of Matta, one of the indigenous peoples’ villages.
Suriname's interior regions are underdeveloped and under-serviced, with the population suffering disproportionately from poverty and unemployment. Sustainable agriculture is considered a growth opportunity - and the aim of this project is to increase farmers' income and shift towards a permanent organic farming system.
By addressing the financing constraints that have prevented Suriname from seizing the great potential of the pineapple value chain, the country is meant to become a sustainable pineapple producer for the local and international markets.
The joint project brings together a wide array of stakeholders - from indigenous communities and organizations, producers, processors, traders, and other input providers to government ministries, village authorities, research and financial institutions and multiple UN entities - and is opening up wider prospects for a unique and sustainable agricultural sector in Suriname.
The ultimate goal? To boost pineapple production from the current 2,000 to 3,000 tons a year to 20,000 tons by 2030.
The "Sustainable Pineapple Value Chain Development" programme stems from a proposal submitted under The Accelerator for Agriculture and Agroindustry Development and Innovation Plus (3ADI+)*, and was selected from a global pool of submissions from over 100 countries.
*3ADI+ has been rebranded to the Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA), which is a global program co-led by UNIDO and FAO. It assists countries with accelerating investment in food system transformation to achieve the SDGs, including through the development of value chains, market systems, business models and inclusive finance.