Banana farms

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
Trip End Jun 22, 2013

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Limon,
Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tuesday night a Fyffes guy called Manolo who lives near the hotel came to meet me for dinner and take me out for a drink. He hardly spoke any English so I had to really challenge myself to practice my Spanish but it was easier than I expected and we had a fun evening.
On my first morning I got up early to go for a swim in the Olympic sized pool but it was closed for maintenance!! Very annoying. I was picked up by Leslie who is the agronomist that looks after bananas and we headed off to a fairly new farm that wanted him to visit. We walked around the farm a bit and then had a look in the packing shed. I really struggled as it was 34 degrees and about 85% humidity so really hot and sticky. We watched some bananas being harvested. They are cut off the plant using a machete and then hung on the 'banana train' which is an overhead system of wires and chains to which the banana clusters (25) are attached and then pulled along to the packhouse. We were also looking for any problems with disease but it all looked very good. In the packhouse the bananas are removed in bunches and roughly sorted in a few sizes. They are put into water containing hydrogen peroxide and soap (to remove the latex) and any rejects are removed to go for animal feed, pureeing etc. Then they are packed into bags/boxes etc depending on the requirement. They are packed in a specific order to make sure they fit as well as possible in the box and won't damage each other.
After that we headed off to another farm and stopped for a tasty lunch on the way. They do a really nice soup nearly everywhere here which has a tomato and chilli base and contains tortilla, avocado, cheese and sometimes chicken. I've had it twice now and love it. In the afternoon we popped into two more farms, one to show me some quality control in a packhouse and the other because they wanted to go over their nutrition schedule with Leslie. Although Fyffes don't own the farms Leslie helps them out when required and visits often as it will ensure that Fyffes get the quality of fruit that they want. In the evening we had dinner and a few drinks in the hotel and chilled out. I tried another local (ish) rum from Guatemala which was absolutely amazing and I will definitely try and track down in the UK! There was karaoke on which was dreadful and hilarious!!

The pool was still closed this morning annoyingly but seeing as we were meeting at 7 maybe that was a good thing! First we went to a farm where they have been having major problems with a disease called Moko so we were checking on the situation. If a plant gets it they have to cut it down, cover it securely with plastic and fumigate it. Some places looked like a banana murder scene there were so many plastic lumps! Plants that were right next to infected areas they were injecting with herbicide to kill them and try and stop the spread of the disease. We walked around for two hours which was such hard work as it was incredibly hot and sticky. I've discovered that I really really struggle with humidity!!! Then we went into the packhouse for a little while to watch the quality inspection before heading into town for a restorative pizza!! We popped briefly into another farm in the afternoon before heading back to San Jose. It was a really great few days and it's so good to see the things I've been taught in the office brought to life. As I mentioned before none of the farms in Costa Rica supply Sainsbury's as they are not Fairtrade but the farms we take from are pretty much identical to what I saw.

Whilst driving to the farms we also went past loads of other crops e.g. Cassava, papaya and palm. I had never seen any of them before so took the opportunity to have a quick look as we went past.
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