Project Cultivar: Advancing Labor Rights in Agriculture
A Project Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor for Central America and the Dominican Republic
Project Years: 2007-2011
Goal: To build ethical market access for producers, through compliance with labor and environmental standards.
Summary: Project Cultivar enables a culture of compliance in a challenging sector for labor rights.
Consumers increasingly demand commitment to labor standards from both producers and retailers, while becoming increasingly aware of the grave challenges to workers rights in agriculture in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Thus, producers and exporters from the region encounter a market incentive added to their social responsibility to ensure human rights at work.
Project Team: Overseen by SAI’s regional office in Managua, Nicaragua, this locally-grounded project leverages partnerships with four local NGOs in the three countries to build an enabling environment for labor rights in agriculture through three sustainable business strategies. Project partners are building their capacity through their participation in a mutual exchange of best practices, challenges and the experiences of their particular areas of work. Learn more about Project Cultivar's local partners.
Project Cultivar’s Three Principle Strategies
Strategy 1: Strengthen Local Leadership
SAI’s local partners in Cultivar have strengthened their leadership as proponents of labor law compliance. Highlights include:
- INCAP & CIAC undertook national cholera prevention planning for the Dominican banana and sugarcane sectors;
- CDH was invited by the Honduran tripartite Socio-Economic Council (CES) to deliver a workshop on promoting social dialogue to a regional forum peer Councils, which represent the national social dialogue structures in their 3 respective countries;
- CIAC was tapped by the Canadian International Development Agency to provide technical assistance to the Dominican Labor Ministry on overall and specific safety and health strategies
Strategy 2: Build Capacity of Workers, Managers and Labor Inspectors
-In Nicaragua, training for 100 percent in the farms in the banana industry
-In Nicaragua, Finca Coquimba’s owner attributes to Cultivar the fact that his banana farm rose to 1st place nationwide in Chiquita’s supplier ratings for production quality and productivity (boxes packed per hectare)
-In Honduras, development of a Certificate Program in Social Dialogue, Labor Relations, and Management Systems with the Autonomous National University of Honduras (UNAH) The inaugural class of 32 included employers, trade union leaders, government officials and academics.
-In the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, popular education materials were developed and published on labor rights (in Spanish and Haitian Creole in the DR), for agricultural workers and employers.
-In Nicaragua, re-activation of the Chinandega Department Council for Occupational Health and Safety, a tripartite body mandated by law to oversee OSH in the department, by providing meeting space and convening regular meetings, which participants have committed to sustain
-In the Dominican Republic, the roundtable meetings in the sugar sector represented groundbreaking dialogue among Haitian workers, colonos (producers), sugar companies and government officials, a historic precedent in a sector whose history is tainted with instances of slavery-like conditions
-The consultative group in the Dominican banana sector engaged Haitian and Dominican immigration authorities and the military and agreed on a permit to facilitate workers’ movement in the Northwest region.