CINRAM Director Dean Current, says that traditionally, palms are gathered by local communities and sold to middlemen who sell to distributers, shutting the largely impoverished communities out of the ultimate proceeds of the palms. And middlemen are paid by volume, which results in 50 to 70 percent of the palms being discarded by retailers because they are of inferior quality.
“The communities weren’t making any money and too many palms were being taken out of the forest,” he says.
With Eco-Palms, growing communities are involved in the entire value chain. They harvest, sort and package Eco-Palms and are paid fairly for their work.
Ana Centeno, an Eco-Palm harvester from Carmelita, Guatemala, says, “Before, all the sorting and packaging was done by middlemen. There was no benefit to the community. Now it’s done by the community and it’s providing jobs and income.”