The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is committed to a sustainable agriculture that is adaptable to climate change, with that objective supports the conservation and recovery of forests on riverbanks and upper parts of the basins, care of the soils that include green manure and conservation and recovery practices for the ecosystem such as fish farming, among others.
Forest recovery and conservation
In alliance with the Private Institute for Climate Change -ICC-, since 2011 the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has contributed to the recovery and conservation of forests by planting more than 5.9 million trees in the upper basin and riverbanks that flow into the South of Guatemala.
As part of this effort, 284 hectares of land have been reforested on the banks of the rivers of the South of the country alone, equivalent to 400 football fields, creating gallery forests and biological corridors.
These forests on the banks of rivers help to recharge water, to conserve soils by avoiding erosion and are also natural barriers that prevent floods, while they are home to species of flora and fauna.
In addition, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has 2,507 hectares of natural forests, which are protected and cared for, and are part of the agro-landscape of the South of Guatemala and benefit the conservation of biological diversity.
Since 2012, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has worked hand in hand with the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña- and the ICC in the development and implementation of practices for soil conservation.
One of these important practices is the plowing or the disposition of the land for the cultivation of sugarcane, so that it can better absorb water and nutrients, which preserves fertility and prevents erosion and flooding.
In addition, the Sugar Industry has implemented green manure through the sowing of legume plants that return nitrogen to the soil naturally. Sugarcane cultivation is renewed every 5 years to maintain its yield, so that, in the ideal areas, this renewal is used to rest and nourish the soil with the sowing of a legume that takes between 6 and 8 months in the field.
Legumes are the only group of plants that can capture nitrogen from the air and incorporate it into their body. When they are mixed with the soil, they contribute organic matter that improves the texture and structure of the soil. In addition, it promotes the proliferation of microorganisms that are beneficial for crops.
Crop rotation also helps in pest control because, by exchanging the cane for legumes, the life cycle of the insects that feed on the sugar cane is broken.
Release of native fish into rivers
Another program implemented by the refineries is to enrich the fauna in the rivers. This activity called “stocking fish” aims to increase the population of native species in the rivers of the South of Guatemala. The Sugar Industry, with the support of the ICC, has released around 50,000 fingerlings or small fish into the rivers.