Welcome to Hondupalma ... The worlds first sustainable certified palm oil cooperative

Photo Credit: Tree Hugger

Hondupalma is a medium-sized palm oil cooperative that is located about an hour away from San Pedro Sula, which is an industrial city in northern Honduras. Hondupalma is a 9500-hectare plantation. Hondupalma is different from other palm oil plantations because the palm oil plantation has achieved the Rainforest Alliance certification for the production of sustainable palm oil in October 2013. Hondupalma plantation was the first-ever palm oil cooperative in the world to do this, and it is also the first certified palm oil company in Honduras. It is amazing to see firsthand the kind of work that is being done to help improve this industry that has such a bad reputation around the world, especially when it comes to things such as deforestation and environmental stewardship.

Palm oil plantations have been threatening forest peoples, destroying animal habitats, and ravaging rainforests located in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. However. Hondupalma is a palm oil plantation that is showing the world that it doesn't have to be that way. Hondupalma has just become the world’s most sustainable palm oil plantation, and that is thanks to a certification from the Rainforest Alliance. The 9,500-hectare palm oil plantation has invested two years and a total of $2.5 million to help achieve the certification, and as a result is just one of the ways to help the environment. The plantation has had significant social, economic, and environmental benefits across the entire community.

Some of the ten principles necessary for certification from the Rainforest Alliance include having better safety gear and health care for the plantation workers and improved training in the reduced use of agrochemicals. Other principles necessary for certification include better recycling and waste disposal systems, eco-building and new infrastructure in the form of storage sheds and improved housing for the workers, guaranteed protection for wildlife, forests, and the waterways, reforestation and rainforest conservation projects. The Rainforest Alliance strives for three areas of improvement with its green certification program to include economic, social, and environmental. The Hondupalma plantation shows evidence for this in the conversation by streamlining and improving their agricultural practices, with the cooperative seeing a 15 to 20 percent increase in their crop yields, while also saving money and making environmental gains by using fewer agrochemicals. At the plantation, you can now see more wildlife and lush undergrowth within the plantations, and the plantation is not supposed to use any synthetic fertilizers near the protected areas, such as the waterways.

Workers at the plantation receive a higher wage than they would typically receive at other palm oil plantations in the area, which is because of Hondupalma being a socially minded cooperative that also shares its increased profits with all of their members than to any requirements for the certification process. The fact that certified plantations and farms are not obligated to pay more than the national minimum wage for the agricultural work should be surprising since minimum wage is so often less than what is considered to be a living’ wage. Workers at the plantation receive a salary that guarantees they have a baseline income for the slower seasons when the piecework at the plantation isn’t quite as lucrative. The plantation now has new equipment that helps to streamline some of the farming processes and also makes it less labor-intensive. The Hondupalma plantation is a great example of what is possible and ways to help the environment when a group of conscientious farmers, together with their technical advisors and auditors, joins forces in a way to effect lasting change on their land and in their community. You will find more about the Hondupalma palm oil cooperative at the Tree Hugger site. On the site, you will find eco building, sustainable housing, ways to help the environment, design, energy and more. **

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