In honor of World Health Day on April 7th, here’s a look at how certification can support the health and wellbeing of farmworkers and their families around the world.
In Nicaragua, in the coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, Finca La Cumplida is working with local residents to cultivate a harmonious relationship with nature and making great strides in reforesting a region ravaged by agriculture and livestock.
Finca La Cumplida first achieved Rainforest Alliance certification in 2005. The farm has 760 permanent residents, but during coffee picking season it employs up to 2,000 workers.
As part of the certification process, La Cumplida has a health clinic with a 24-hour nurse to attend to emergencies, first aid and minor surgical needs. Medical consultations are provided twice a month: once by a doctor from the Ministry of Health and once by a doctor from the Nicaraguan nongovernmental agency Profamilia. Patients are charged a nominal fee (usually less than the equivalent to US$ 1) for medical services, and the farm picks up the bill for medicine or more serious medical treatment that would be otherwise unaffordable to the patients. The farm’s owner, Clemente Ponçon, estimates that the farm spends several hundred dollars a month on medicine and other medical care for its workers. The clinic also focuses on preventive care, with an emphasis on health education and reproductive care.
In southern India, eight tea estates have earned Rainforest Alliance certification; all of them sell their leaves to Unilever for the Lipton Yellow Label and PG tips brands. Workers on the Glendale Tea Estate benefit from social and healthcare programs, including access to doctors and nurses at an on-site hospital, schools and daycare centers.
At the Kairbetta Estate, the management provides free medical aid for all family members of workers and tea pluckers, as well as community members who would not otherwise have access to healthcare. The estate employs an on-site nurse who can attend to injuries and illnesses immediately.
In Guatemala, five generations of the Guzmán family have run the Finca Buenos Aires in the Retalhuleu region, a coffee farm that sits at an altitude of 2,000 feet (600 meters) atop a vast network of ancient Mayan and Olmec ruins. The farm has been producing aromatic beans beneath the shade of the forest canopy since 1882.
Felipe Guzmán’s commitment to sustainable farming runs as deep as his family roots in the local community. Guzmán guided the farm to Rainforest Alliance certification in 2003. A few years later, Finca Buenos Aires supplied the farm’s 20 households with water filters, an improvement that led to a dramatic decline in gastro-intestinal illnesses. The farmworkers are also enrolled with Guatemala’s national healthcare program; Guzmán provides with free medication twice a year, and employees can also buy many basic medicines at reduced rates.