• Rainforest Alliance


    In terms of environmental and sustainability requirements the Rainforest Alliance (RA) certification scheme is certainly amongst the more ambitious.   Based on multi-crop farm management guidelines continuously developed since 1992 by the Sustainable Agriculture Network or SAN, a coalition of independent NGOs, its work has attracted considerable support, including substantial grant funding from the United Nations Development Program.

    Rainforest Alliance coffee production standards incorporate the ten Social and Environmental Principles of the Sustainable Agricultural Network:

    • Social and Environmental Management System - Agriculture activities should be planned, monitored and evaluated, considering economic, social and environmental aspects and demonstrate compliance with the law and the certification standards. Planning and monitoring are essential to efficacious farm management, profitable production, crop quality and continual improvement.
    • Ecosystem Conservation - Farmers promote the conservation and recuperation of ecosystems on and near the farm.
    • Wildlife Conservation - Concrete and constant measures are taken to protect biodiversity, especially threatened and endangered species and their habitats.
    • Water Conservation - All pollution and contamination must be controlled, and waterways must be protected with vegetative barriers.
    • Fair Treatment and Good Conditions for Workers - Agriculture should improve the well being and standards of living for farmers, workers and their families.
    • Occupational Health and Safety - Working conditions must be safe, and workers must be trained and provided with the appropriate equipment to carry out their activities.
    • Community Relations - Farms must be "good neighbours" to nearby communities, and positive forces for economic and social development.
    • Integrated Crop Management - Farmers must employ Integrated Pest Management techniques and strictly control the use of any agrochemicals to protect the health and safety of workers, communities and the environment.
    • Soil Conservation - Erosion must be controlled, and soil health and fertility should be maintained and enriched where possible.
    • Integrated Waste Management - Farmers must have a waste management program to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible and properly manage all wastes.

    SAN standards are based on an internationally recognized integrated pest management (IPM) model, which allows for some limited, strictly controlled use of agrochemicals. Farmers certified by the Rainforest Alliance do not use agrochemicals prohibited by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union, nor do they use chemicals listed on the Pesticide Action Network's "Dirty Dozen" list.

    RA considers that by following the standards, farmers can reduce costs, conserve natural resources, control pollution, conserve wildlife habitat, ensure rights and benefits for workers, improve the quality of their harvest, and earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal of approval. The seal allows producers to distinguish their coffee. This is helpful in establishing long-term marketing relationships because the certification guarantees that the farm is managed according to the highest social and environmental standards. The certification process includes: 1) preliminary site visit by SAN technicians to determine the changes necessary to achieve certification (diagnostic); 2) a comprehensive audit of farm operations (certification audit); 3) based on an evaluation report, the certification committee determines whether the farm merits certification; 4) a contract that governs and monitors the use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal of approval, the handling of certified products and marketplace promotion. 

    2008 sales of RA certified coffee were 62,296 metric tons green bean and are the culmination of  80+ % annual growth for the past six years. RA-certified coffee is now produced in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopía, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Tanzania, Vietnam and Uganda.

    For more information on RA and SAN visit www.rainforest-alliance.org
    and http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/programs/agriculture/san/index.html

    Updated 07/2009

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