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BOHESI - Banana Occupational Health and Safety

The Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI) is a pilot project being implemented in Ecuador and Cameroon with an unprecedented involvement of public and private sector actors, as well as civil society, at local and international levels. Amongst its key outcomes, it counts with ground-breaking transformations relating to labour rights concerns for banana workers in the field of occupational health and safety (OHS). 

Why Target Occupational Health and Safety in the Banana Industry?

Bananas are the most consumed fruit in the world and the global industry equates to over 10 billion dollars per year. However, the largely monoculture production of this fruit involves intensive use of agrochemicals and significant risks to the health and safety of workers, producers and their communities. 

To address this priority issue on an industry level, a key number of stakeholders – government, companies, producers, certifiers, trade unions and NGOs – came together under the umbrella of the World Banana Forum (WBF) to form BOHESI. Ultimately, the initiative aims to contribute to a more socially and environmentally sustainable banana production and trade with improved standards of living (in particular, in relation to health and natural resource access) for male and female banana workers, farmers and surrounding communities.

Only in Ecuador, the institutional impacts achieved by BOHESI activities have the potential to reach 163,039 hectares of banana farms, which are distributed amongst 4,787 small to large producers. These impacts will potentially benefit up to 220,000 workers employed in the Ecuadorian banana sector directly and 2 to 2.5 million indirectly (MAG, 2015). 

In Cameroon, the industry actors involved – both company and trade union – represent the entire national banana export sector, reaching approximately 8,000 hectares of banana farms and at least 14,000 workers employed directly in the industry.

The success of the initiative has gained attention in other banana-producing countries, who have expressed interest in adapting the health and safety manual produced to their national contexts.

Bearing this in mind, it is important to highlight the key achievements and future steps of the BOHESI project, as they can provide key learnings for the future of OHS activities in the banana industry on a global scale.

Coordinators, Donors and Contributors

The initiative, inaugurated in 2014 and coordinated by Solidaridad, Banana Link and the World Banana Forum Secretariat, has counted on the Ecuadorian public sector, through the main intervention of the Ministry of Labour (MoL), in the compilation of legislation, the writing of technical notes, and content review; in addition, the support of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) and the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS), which have supported in the review of the contents. In turn, the collaborators of BOHESI, in addition to the members of the WBF, have contributed by providing private manuals, content review and opinions. The initiative has also been supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in addition to the Social Protection Division of the FAO (ESP). 

BOHESI has been financed mainly by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), established by the Dutch government, which is itself financed by various European governments. The initiative has also counted on financial contributions from: Tesco, Fairtrade International (FLO), Compagnie Frutière, PHP, IPL/ASDA, REWE, Jumbo, Fyffes and AgroAmerica; and match / in-kind contributions from Solidaridad, the WBF Secretariat, AEBE, Compagnie Frutière, Plantations du Haut Penja (PHP), the PHP Union Platform, Fako Agricultural Workers Union (FAWU), Cameroon Development Company (CDC) and Dole.

Donors

                        

                          

                           

In-Kind Contributors

             

                

Ecuadorian Government Support