A group of cantaloupe farms in Costa Rica became the first in the world to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification, after fulfilling the sustainability guidelines of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), which protect the environment, wildlife and worker welfare. The farms produce for the company SFG Dulce, which has also earned the green frog seal for watermelon production.

“We are very pleased to have collaborated with SFG Dulce in this process, whereby we can confirm its commitment to sustainability through excellent social and environmental performance, which could become a model for other producers in the sector to follow,” said Ana Lucía Corrales, agricultural certification manager for the Rainforest Alliance.

The eight Rainforest Alliance certified farms are located in the regions of Garabito, Orotina and Nandayure, and combined they cover 723 hectares. Dulce brand cantaloupes and watermelons will be sold in Europe with the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal.

Susan Hoekstra, general manager of SFG Dulce, explains that cantaloupe and watermelon production is quite intensive, and the conventional methods used to address short production cycles can cause irreversible damage to the environment. The eight farms selected Rainforest Alliance certification because they wanted a certification that would be compatible with their philosophy of work and their vision for the future. “We are betting that our customers will come to appreciate the effort we make to produce in an environmentally conscious and socially just way and that they will prefer our product over the large number of competitors in the market,” said Hoekstra.

The impact of this production, as Hoekstra noted, can be very high, particularly because all the farms are found in vulnerable places, near forested areas adjacent to rivers and beaches.

However, the way the producers and SFG Dulce representatives faced the certification process allowed them to become aware of their responsibility in the management of the natural resources around them, and even to become a model for neighbouring properties and community residents who have participated in training sessions.

The SFG Dulce Manager does not conceal her satisfaction at having become the first melon producer in the world to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification. “Now we must continue to improve with perseverance and innovation,” said Hoekstra.