» CATIE dairy farm maintains certification for sustainability


CATIE dairy farm maintains certification for sustainability

After an annual audit, Rainforest Alliance certified important environmental achievements in the dairy operation of the Commercial Farm at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and confirmed continuation of the seal of sustainability, the only dairy farm in the region to be so recognized. In order to keep its certification, the farm complies with strict standards related to animal well­being, conservation of natural resources through management of trees in pastures and different silvopastoral systems, and the rights and well­being of workers.

The farm must also adequately manage its solid and liquid wastes, implement all protocols related to animal well­being, protect natural aquatic systems, offer highly digestible diets to animals, adequately process manure, use agrochemicals appropriately—using only those permitted by Rainforest Alliance—and conserve forest cover on all its areas.

Through adoption of all of these measures, the farm’s carbon footprint is reduced. Oscar Sanabria, director of CATIE’s Division of Administration and Finances, credits the successful maintenance of the Rainforest Alliance Certificate to a synergy developed between the institution’s scientific programs and its commercial operations. “For more than three years, we have been working to align processes of production with the standard that certifies the dairy operation,” said Sanabria.

The dairy not only kept its sustainability certification but also improved its rating, according to the evaluation, which shows that the farm continues to integrate activities to increase productivity in harmony with conservation activities, the goal being one of achieving excellence. Alejandro Molina, administrator of the Commercial Farm, explained that this process requires constant work but that it is worth the effort since it leads to efficient production, operational profitability and conservation of the environment.

According to Claudia Sepúlveda, researcher in the Livestock and Environmental Management Program at CATIE, the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal ensures that the farms comply with clearly defined social and environmental criteria and that they are on the path toward real sustainability. “From an environmental and commercial point of view, to have this seal,” Sanabria said “has generated a paradigm change in our dairy operation. At this time, we currently milk 160 cows, and we estimate production in 2015 of more than a million kilos of milk. With the application of the Rainforest Alliance standard, it will be easier to promote sustainable achievement of these objectives.”

The CATIE Commercial Farm covers more than 600 hectares dedicated to forestry, sugar cane, coffee, and cattle for beef and milk. The dairy area covers 73 hectares for a herd of 350 animals. Currently, the dairy offers a regional training platform for technicians and producers interested in learning how to produce under the high standards of environmental sustainability.

More information:
Alejandro Molina
Commercial Farm Administrator

Karla Salazar Leiva
Office of Communication and Incidence

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