Suriname's pineapple industry is embarking on an ambitious journey led by the Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA) programme.
The ASTA programme, which is funded by the Joint SDG Fund, is a collaborative initiative led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Foreign Affairs, International Business, and International Cooperation (BIBIS) and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Republic Suriname (LVV).
Mr. Freddy Gamboa, an ASTA international agronomist with a wealth of experience in pineapple cultivation from his work in Costa Rica and the Caribbean region, commends the ASTA joint programme’s targets. The programme aims to upgrade pineapple cultivation practices while seeking to address gender and labor challenges and establish Suriname as one of the major pineapple producers in the Caribbean in the future. During his travel to Suriname on October 27 – November 03, 2023, Mr. Freddy Gamboa engaged a wide range of participants, from government officials and community leaders to private sector representatives and local farmers, in a series of interactive training workshops on pineapple production, tailored to the specific conditions of Suriname’s climate. Furthermore, ASTA Joint Programme made history within Suriname’s pineapple industry for its introduction of innovative practices such as the use of subsoilers and bedders for planting pineapple in beds and the incorporation of mountain minerals for soil enhancement.
Upgrading Pineapple Cultivation
Deep in the heart of Suriname's Para district, the village of Redi Doti is not just witnessing history, but actively shaping it. A 1200 square meter state-of-the-art trial plot, carefully selected for its well-drained sandy soils, serves as the canvas for a pioneering agricultural experiment. Over 3000 pineapple plant material of the local Stuger and Ingi Nasi varieties have been meticulously planted, involving harrowing, subsoiling and bedding, while upholding the principles of organic farming.
Freddy Gamboa said that ASTA is poised to elevate pineapple production in Suriname, with the goal of transforming the country into one of the leading exporters of organic pineapples in the next years. By harnessing innovative techniques and sustainable farming practices, Suriname aims to not only make efficient use of its precious land resources but also improve its soil health and fertility. Considering climate change patterns, this approach not only ensures long-term sustainability but also results in higher yields and quality, making Surinamese pineapples highly appealing to international buyers. The vision behind ASTA is not just about growing pineapples; it's about cultivating a thriving, eco-conscious agricultural sector that benefits local communities and global consumers”.
The Ministries of Suriname and ASTA teams during the next 15-18 months will introduce a suite of modern techniques and good agricultural practices. High-density planting, organic fertilizer application, artificial flower induction techniques, integrated pest management and post-harvest handling are among the innovative practices aimed at boosting yields, improving quality, and ensuring long-term sustainability. This trial plot serves as a dynamic platform to showcase the real-time effects of these advanced methods on key factors such as growth rates, disease resistance, fruit development, sweetness and organoleptic characteristics. The knowledge gained here will not just benefit Redi Doti but will reverberate across Suriname, becoming a catalyst for the expansion of sustainable organic pineapple farming.
Following the creation of the trail plot, seasoned pineapple farmers with experience in pineapple production were invited to participate in practical training on planting pineapple in beds. Farmers expressed their enthusiasm for the innovative approaches introduced by ASTA and stressed the importance of these new techniques and practices, highlighting the immense promise they hold for the local farming community. These new practices have sparked excitement as they provide a path to higher yields, improved quality, and year-round pineapple production. They noted that the knowledge and experience they are gaining from the trial plot are priceless, and that it would be even more valuable to share these newfound skills with fellow farmers in the village and anyone interested in embracing the future of pineapple cultivation.
Capacity Building through Knowledge Sharing
On November 01, 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, in collaboration with the ASTA Joint Programme, hosted a dynamic workshop that brought together a diverse group of stakeholders. This gathering included government officials, representatives from the private sector, civil society organizations, and development partners, with a shared goal of advancing Suriname's pineapple industry. The workshop served as a platform for sharing insights and knowledge about pineapple production, drawing from the successful agronomy practices employed in Costa Rica, experience from other Caribbean countries, importance of nutrients, and exploring how these practices can be adapted to Suriname's unique landscape.
In her opening speech Ms. Maitre Jagroep, Deputy of the Agricultural Research, Marketing, and Processing Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, emphasized the importance of the ASTA Joint Programme for developing Suriname's pineapple sector. She highlighted the event's goal of raising stakeholder awareness and sharing insights on production best practices and noted the government's vision for sustainable practices tailored to Suriname's landscape, drawing on successful examples from Costa Rica. She expressed hope that in the next two years, farmers will adopt techniques to increase yields sustainably and concluded by thanking partners and calling for ongoing collaboration to advance the pineapple sector. Ms. Jagroep expressed confidence that by working together, Suriname can build an innovative, thriving industry that drives economic gains while protecting the environment.
Mr. Davronjon Okhunjonov, the International Business Manager for the ASTA Joint Programme in Suriname, thanked participants for interest in pineapple production and willingness for continuous learning. He remarked that it is a historic moment for Suriname's pineapple industry as the ASTA Joint Programme introduces innovative practices. These include the first-time use of subsoilers and bedders, alongside the incorporation of mountain minerals for soil enhancement. He thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affair, Ministry of Agriculture, indigenous communities, maroon tribes, development partners, and financial institutions who have shared vision in the development of innovative production models that enable year-round pineapple cultivation, providing farmers with increased income, access to funding and employment opportunities.
Mr. Freddy Gamboa delivered a presentation covering various aspects, including pineapple production, soil quality and fertility, nutritional considerations, variety selection, weather conditions, and the phased implementation of improvements in Suriname. He illustrated the process of preparing the land and planting pineapples in the Redi Doti region. Furthermore, he elaborated on the agronomic measures necessary for achieving higher yields while maintaining sustainable production practices. Mr. Gamboa also emphasized the significance of strengthening the technical capabilities of local institutions. This empowerment would enable these organizations to replicate and expand training programs, facilitating the widespread adoption of best practices.
During the event, vibrant discussions delved into a variety of topics, including modern production techniques, responsible fertilizer use, soil analysis, and conservation practices. The interactive discussion session, skillfully facilitated by Mr. Gamboa, encouraged participants to ask questions, explore opportunities, and address production challenges, such as optimising fertilizer use and irrigation requirements while simultaneously improving soil quality. Stakeholders exchanged perspectives, ideas, and commitments to follow up with trial plots in the Para and Marowijne districts.
In closing, the organizers expressed their heartfelt appreciation to all participants, speakers, and contributors for their enthusiastic engagement and significant contributions to the event's success. They reaffirmed their unwavering dedication to collaborative efforts that will propel the sustainable growth and advancement of Suriname's burgeoning pineapple sector.
Capacity building activity in Marowijne and Para districts
Continuing his commitment to knowledge-sharing, Mr. Gamboa conducted another series of training to the farmers in Para and Marowijne districts providing further guidance on the utilization of mountain minerals, soil preparation, and soil improvement techniques. Mountain mineral fertilizers prepared in February 2023 together with farmers were activated and became ready for use in the pineapple field. These aspects play a pivotal role in ensuring the long-term health and productivity of pineapple plantations. Farmers were equipped with the information needed to optimise soil conditions, leading to enhanced yields and quality in their pineapple crops.
These capacity-building activities, spanning both theoretical knowledge and practical expertise, mark a significant step in advancing Suriname's pineapple industry. The dedication of Mr. Gamboa and the enthusiastic engagement of local stakeholders promise a bright future for sustainable pineapple farming in the region.
The ASTA in Suriname
The Sustainable Pineapple Value Chain Development project implemented in the framework of the Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA) in Suriname is a 4-year joint programme funded by the Joint SDG fund and co-led by FAO and UNIDO, with support from ILO and UNFPA. Developed in close collaboration with the Government of Suriname and local pineapple actors and stakeholders, the program aims to transform Suriname into an established producer and exporter of high-quality organic fresh and processed pineapples, using an inclusive and sustainable value chain approach. The comprehensive program provides training, capacity building, and access to finance for smallholder farmers to adopt organic and regenerative production practices. It also facilitates investments in processing facilities and infrastructure to add value while minimizing food loss and waste. By linking farmers to new domestic and international markets for premium pineapple products, the initiative seeks to catalyse broad-based economic development in Suriname's rural communities. With a strong emphasis on gender equality, youth engagement, and environmental sustainability, the ASTA pineapple project embodies an integrated approach to building resilient, inclusive agrifood systems.
Orginally published by UN Suriname.
The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.