The Dummen Group received MPS-ABC (environmental) and MPS-GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification for its Las Mercedes facilities in El Salvador at the MPS booth at Cultivate’14 on Sunday, July 13. The breeding company is continuing to work toward the social component of certification, as well.
Dummen also announced it will not use neonicotinoid pesticides for spring annuals production. The company states that while the scientific investigation into honeybee and bumblebee losses and research on Colony Collapse Disorder continues, the leadership at the Las Mercedes facility, including General Manager Carl Kroon, feel it’s better to produce crops without neonicotinoids. At the press conference during Cultivate’14, Kroon said Dummen will instead focus on using biocontrols and spot-treatment of crops with non-neonicotinoid pesticides when necessary.
Setting A Higher Standard
MPS, a global standard for sustainability in the horticulture sector, completed its audit of the Las Mercedes facility in June, including an assessment for MPS-Socially Qualifed (social aspects) certification. Kroon says he expects Dummen will receive this certification in the near future, and will continue to work toward it. The MPS-ABC and MPS-GAP certifications mean that the Dummen Group has complied with or exceeded exacting MPS standards on both Environmental and Good Agricultural Practices.
The Dummen Group sought certification of the facility to set and maintain a high standard for itself and its practices in the offshore production facility, where cleanliness is critical.
Since Las Mercedes opened in 2008, Dummen has focused on sustainability and safety, according to a press release from the company:
- Its hydroponic water system minimizes loss of water and fertilizer, and water is recycled using slow sand filters and ultraviolet light.
- It collects and recycles rainwater, which provides more water than the operation pumps from its wells. Las Mercedes adheres strictly to the MPS-permitted chemicals list, which excludes some of the pesticides that are not allowed by the European Union, including neonicotinoids.
- Solar energy is being tested to supply power in the future.
- The facility is working with MPS to increase and improve storage space for fertilizers and chemicals, with systems in place to maintain order and traceability.
- Las Mercedes continues its worker safety committee, which routinely conducts safety talks with the workforce, and also developed an emergency evacuation plan. The operation has completed 200 training sessions in 2014, covering job requirements, health, substance abuse, smoking cessation, motivation and self-esteem.
- The operation has an onsite medical clinic with a full-time nurse, and has an agreement with a local ambulance corps. It provides financial support to the corps, and has an ambulance at the farm for its employees and the community.
Dummen also recently completed installing concrete floors in all of its petunia greenhouses, which are separated from all other crops to avoid spread of diseases. The concrete floors will allow for more sanitary conditions, Kroon says.
Look for more information in Greenhouse Grower‘s September issue.