The Environmental Impact of the Banana Industry

Agriculture practices have significant impact on both marine and terrestrial environment. All over the world many agriculture practices are creating negative impact on tropical forest and on wild life. This study shows the negative impacts of banana, coffee and pineapple plantation on the marine and terrestrial environment in Costa Rica. Many agriculture practices are creating negative impact on the tropical rainforest. This study also describes the issue of mono culture and what steps government should take in order to reduce the consequences.

Nowadays practices that are being used for plantation of banana are creating negative impacts on tropical rainforests. Fungicides and insecticides applied on banana plantation are also causing cancer and these fungicides and insecticides are very harmful for the workers on plantation besides, distressing the surrounding environment. So it very necessary to create awareness about the negative impact of banana plantation which is basically mono crop plantation. Farmers should limit the chemical usage in plantation and should cultivate environmentally friendly fruits.

Coffee plantation in Costa Rica is also creating negative impacts on the environment so there is a need of improving current legislation on this matter. Coffee plantations require excessive use of water which is creating negative impacts on the environment. Also pineapple plantation is also creating negative impacts on the environment. This paper also discusses the different negative impacts of pineapple plantation and how to prevent from them.

Marine Environment

Human beings, animals, plants, everyone’s life survival depends on water. About 71% of the planet’s face is enclosed by water. Most of the water on earth is in the form of seas and oceans. Water gives us food, energy and water is not only essential for our lives but also for the intercontinental trade and calm global environment’s subsistence.

Not only used by human beings but world’s oceans pave the way for marine transports, mining and other natural resources depends on oceans’ continuation, and also the climate control depends on it. Today, around 85% of universal fish catch is accounted by the marine fisheries and 80% of the operations are carried out through ocean shipping. Even after imposition of several laws, the fishing still continues to pose a threat that our ecological environment is in danger of going extinct. It is estimate that around 70% of the world’s fish is found to be beyond sustainable limits (Castillo, Martinez, Ruepert, Savage, Gilek, & Pinnock, 2006).

The industries use ocean as an outlet to dump their waste in. The continuous danger of accidental oil spillage and of other nuclear or radioactive materials at sea is also a major threat. Destructive algal organisms that are nurtured by sewage and waste have become more common and are affecting the scenic beauty (Organic Farming in the Tropics and Subtropics).

Terrestrial Environment

Anything belonging to land rather than the sea or air comes under the category of ‘Terrestrial’. This particular environment consists of that part of earth’s land area which includes human-made and natural surface, which modifies with the change in the atmosphere. About 12.2% of the area globally comes under the category of terrestrial environment.

Negative impact of banana plantation

Nowadays practices that are being used for plantation of banana are creating very negative impacts on tropical rainforests. Banana plantation is playing big part in the disastrous loss of biodiversity. Banana is an inexpensive fruit and it is the 5th largest agriculture commodity in the world trade and the fourth largest crop of the world in terms of gross value of production.

Banana plantation needs hot humid this is the reason why bananas grow in humid environment. So for banana plantation huge space is required in thick rainforest (Morton, 1987). As rainforest are necessary for plants and animals and they also absorb carbon dioxide so if rainforest are destroyed it will have a negative impact on the environment. These forests also help in generating rainfall so if rainforests are destroyed in order to harvest bananas then it will disturb the natural processes on Earth.

Major issue with the farming of banana is monoculture. Farming banana also diminishes soil fertility. Fungicides and insecticides applied on banana plantation are also causing cancer and these fungicides and insecticides are very harmful for the workers on plantation besides, distressing the surrounding environment (The Environmental Impact of Banana Plantations).

Pesticides used in banana plantation to protect crops from insects are also creating negative impacts on the biodiversity of the waterways. Banana plantation also has negative impacts on the soil (Worobetz, 2000). The major negative impact of banana plantation is reduction in nutrients and this happens because of the reduction of rainforests. Like in Costa Rica there was 37% reduction in the amount of carbon in the soil and 16.5% reduction in magnesium because of the banana plantations. Banana plantation also impact negatively on the soil downwind because levels of chemical in the soil are increased especially in the mountain forests of Costa Rica (Banana plantations in Latin America).

Banana cultivation in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, one of the major sources of foreign exchange is banana cultivation and it holds the major part of trade in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica 33% of foreign exchange comes from exports of banana. The production and exports of bananas is increasing day by day which result in disturbing the environment as well as having a negative impact on health of people in the production region (Costa Rica Analysis).

Many organizations in Costa Rica are opposing expansion of banana production because of the negative impacts on environment and society. As mentioned above that cultivation of banana has established itself as monoculture and its cultivation requires huge area of land and control over ground water which creates deforestation and declines in ground water resources. It also requires proper channels of drainage and canals. Cultivation of bananas also requires high level of fertilizers and insect killer chemicals. Banana plantation also increases the level of contaminated waste water. Costa Rica is also facing mineral deficiencies in the soil because of the expansion of banana plantation. Most of the farmers do not obey the forest and water legislation in the plantation of bananas.

The usage of pesticides in Costa Rica is also increasing day by day especially in banana plantation. 33% of the pesticides imported in Costa Rica are consumed by the banana industry and it is almost 35% of the total banana production cost. In order to protect the roots of banana trees, plastic bags are used which are creating negative impacts on the environment. The use of Di Bromo Chloro Propane for the protection of banana plants is also creating negative impact on the health of banana workers. Pacific region of Costa Rica had faced great loss of fertile soil which was spoiled by the excessive use of chemicals (Astorga).

So it very necessary to create awareness among the people about the negative impacts of banana plantation which is basically mono crop plantation. Farmers should limit the chemical usage in plantation and should cultivate environmentally friendly fruits. Farmers should reduce pesticide usage and soil destruction. Farmers should adopt the poly culture farming method and there should be proper regulation in banana plantation. Proper research is also important when creating chemicals to spray on banana crop and farmers must use chemicals that don’t have negative impacts on the environment. Farmers should use the protective clothes while using these pesticides. In order to get pest control, pesticides usage level must reduce in banana plantation. Farmers should use non-toxic bags to protect banana bunches. These non-toxic bags would protect banana roots from insects without creating negative impacts on the environment.

Negative impacts of coffee plantation

Coffee is one of the most traded commodities around the world. Because of changes in growing techniques the production of coffee is showing an increasing trend but these changes are having negative impacts on the environment. The elimination of canopy shad impacted negatively on wildlife. Because of the introduction of latest techniques in coffee plantation now farmers are growing coffee under sunlight which increases the use of fertilizers and bug killer. This process is also degrading the environment.

Coffee plantation in Costa Rica

Costa Rica produces high quality coffee because of the high amount of caffeine. Costa Rica is one of the major exporters of coffee and it is playing a key role in the Costa Rican economy. It is the major source of revenue for the country.

Beside all these positive points, coffee plantation in Costa Rica is impacting the environment negatively. Coffee plantation is increasing pollution of rivers because majority coffee producers dumped their wastes directly to rivers which ultimately creates negative impact on marine life. Coffee production in Costa Rica is also increasing soil erosion and the main reason of this soil erosion is the deforestation for coffee production. Excessive coffee production also resulted in forestry loss which has increased at the rate of 4% annually in Costa Rica (Costa Rica Launches Groundbreaking Environmental Initiative). The rate of forest plantation is also increasing so government should focus on this issue and should increase the rate of forest plantation. Government should also encourage mariculture and aquaculture. There is also a need of improving current legislation on that matter. Coffee plantations require excessive use of water which is creating negative impacts on the environment. It’s the responsibility of government to take initiatives and support farmers to grow the coffee under canopy shad. Government should also pass regulation regarding treatment of waste (both liquid and solid).

Pineapple Plantation

The production and export of Pineapple has multiplied all over the world. The major environmental issues in pineapple plantation are:

On average a worker in the pineapple plantation works for 10-12 hours earning a meager $1 – $2 per hour

Toxic chemicals exposition to the workers because of the use of pesticides and fertilizers such as Diuron in Costa Rica has increased and since the workers do not wear any protective gear they are continuously exposed to the hazardous chemicals which cause side effects like allergy, nausea, skin rashes and more serious long-term conditions

Pineapple Plantation in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, the Pineapple plantation started about 60 years ago and at the moment it is the biggest agricultural export of Costa Rica after bananas. Its production and supply has increased in the last two decades. 51% of Costa Rican exports went to North America and 49% to Europe in 2006 and is mounting rapidly in the north of Costa Rica, increasing its value. Pineapple exports in 2007 grew to $484.5 million from $142 million in 2001. The Costa Rica exports pineapple to U.S. amounting to 90% of U.S. pineapple imports.


Use of Pesticides & Chemicals Are Hazard To Health

There are number of health risks associated with use of pesticides for pineapple plantation. Because the pineapple exports as well as demand have increased, the people of Costa Rica have become more vulnerable to harmful effects of the pesticides. The intensive use of pesticides has far reaching effects, not only on the workers who are directly exposed, but on neighboring communities, land, and local ecosystems. The workers get exposed to the chemicals at the first stage of pineapple plantation “Maintenance of Crops” when the fertilizers and pesticides are used and at the last stage of “Packing and Storage” when fumigation is done. The fertilizers, pesticides and fumigation material, all three of them contain various hazardous chemicals. The pests and diseases that occur are Rot root, Thrips, Meally bugs and Nematodes

The pesticides used include Bromaci, Malaise, Diuron, Cholinesterase and Endosulfan which cause eye, nose, skin and throat irritation, redness and itching of the eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, and redness, dehydration, skin cracking, nervous system and respiratory effects such as suicides, unplanned deaths and seizures, fainting, convulsions, disturbance, may increase risk of autism, delay puberty in boys, and cause birth defects of the male reproductive system, muscle twitching, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.

Contaminated Water

According to the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers in 2008, over 6,000 people in fruit production region of Siquirres, Costa Rica had been drinking water contaminated with pesticides Bromacil, Duiron, and Tradimefon from surrounding plantations (Castillo, Martinez, Ruepert, Savage, Gilek, & Pinnock, 2006).

The companies dispose its liquid wastes through a canal into a waste basin, which then flows directly to a river. People in these areas cannot drink the water available in the wells because of its repulsive taste since it is contaminate with chemicals and, they also suffer from various illness caused by those pesticides. Farm animals also drink chemically contaminated water that, in turn, is consumed by locals as they drink milk produced by these cattle.

Marine Life Interrupted

Most of the companies throw their waste materials in the water which disturbs the marine life and also kills hundreds and thousands of organisms living under the surface. Every year, hundreds of fish turn up dead in the bed of the Tejona gully — tributary of the San Carlos River — where it passes through San Jorge de Cutris (northern zone).

Soil Deterioration

The soil through erosion has worsened whereas activity of microbiological nature has deteriorated. The wastes run-off from the planting area causes erosion. The intensive use of herbicides and fungicides, used to combat pests to which the crop is susceptible causes soil deterioration and also kill the pathogens, and other species living in the soil, even those which do not have any harmful effects on the pineapple.


Organic Farming techniques

There is always a chance of possible contamination of soil, water or air. Growing pineapple organically is a challenge but there is no doubt that it increases the quality of the crops grown and also prevents the use of pesticides or fertilizers that harm the marine and terrestrial environment (Farmer to Farmer Program Guyana Organic Pineapple Project).


Recycling of plant eradicates the use of fertilizers and the crops. The waste from pineapple plantation is recycled and is used to produce the organic compost.

No-Till System and Mulch Farming Technique

Mulch farming techniques and No-Till System is said to decrease soil erosion and run-off. Soil erosion is one of the factors responsible for a quick decline in the crop yield. No-Till is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. It increases the amount of water and nutrients in the soil and also helps to decrease erosion. The Mulch Technique is a way of applying a layer of crop residue on the soil surface which increases its nutrient strength, increases activity and species diversity etc. But the accomplishment of No-Till System and Mulch technique both depends on the amount and strength of the crop residue mulch, slope gradient, on soil erode-ability and hydrological properties, and on crop characteristics.


Governments, including Costa Rican, usually favor the interests of multinational companies, and oversee the damages, threats and hazards to the environment, its people, created due to plantation of various vegetables and fruits which is not right. Government just focuses on the profitability rather than saving the environment. Governments need to impose and enforce environmental regulations as the industry rapidly expands.


Astorga, Y. The Environmental Impact of the Banana Industry. A Case Study of Costa Rica, retrieved June 11, 2011 from

Banana plantations in Latin America . World Rainforest Movement. Retrieved June 11, 2011, from

Costa Rica Analysis . Retrieved June 11, 2011, from

Costa Rica Launches Groundbreaking Environmental Initiative. (2010, oct 15). The nature conservancy, Retrieved June 11, 2011, from

Castillo, L.E., Martinez, E., Ruepert, C., Savage, C., Gilek, M., & Pinnock, M. (2006). Water quality and macro invertebrate community response following pesticide applications in a banana plantation, Limon, Costa Rica. Science of The Total Environment, 367(1), 418-432.

Farmer to Farmer Program Guyana Organic Pineapple Project. Partners of the Americas. Retrieved June 11, 2011 from

Morton, J. (1987). Banana. In: Fruits of Warm Climates, retrieved June 11, 2011 from

Organic Farming in the Tropics and Subtropics. Exemplary Description of 20 Crops. Naturland. Retrieved June 11, 2011 from

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Worobetz, K. (2000). Loss of Biodiversity is a Critical Issue. Department of Biological Sciences. University of Alberta.

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