Banana farming in Costa Rica

  

Hello, my name is Daniel Pacheco and I'm the technical manager for the Americas hub looking after bananas, pineapples and melons. My job is to look after the quality and safety of the fruit that is being shipped to the UK; that it meets all our requirements and standards.

What makes a really good banana is the care the grower takes of the fruit since the beginning. It takes around nine months for the plant to give birth to a banana bunch and after that you need three more months to be ready to be packed. Harvesting is a very important and delicate process. The first harvesting teams go into the fields very early, around five o'clock in the morning. They need to measure if the fruit is big enough, what we call the grade and if it is the right conditions they can harvest the fruit and send it to the pack house to be packed.

The teams need to be very careful when laying down the bananas to make sure they do not suffer from bruising. The fruit is always being washed to make sure that our fruit is always safe for our customers. And also nothing is wasted; every banana that gets rejected in the pack house has a destination too. If it is not in the local market, you can transform it into compost and give it back to the field, like a fertiliser.

The bananas are green when we harvest them because we need to make sure that they have an even colour to be presented to our customers and they travel at 13.5 degrees temperature to keep them from ripening earlier than they should, until they arrive in the UK.

The quality manager of the pack house assesses the fruit and gives it a score; every time it is higher, the harvesting teams get better pay for that. Traceability is a very important point for us because we are promising our customers that we know exactly where the fruit they are buying is coming from and the condition it is being produced in; that it's got consistency and a very good quality. For us at Tesco, that's part of our promise.

The growers that we choose to work with have very strong programmes with the communities; they pay for teachers, they help build hospitals and they are very involved in community social work. Bananas are a people business; you really need to take care of your workforce to do the best job that is possible: that will give you quality, that will give you yield. And we work together, that's what really matters.

Bananas are just great and I always like to eat them chopped in ice cream with a little bit of honey; they are just great.

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