The Guatemalan Sugar Industry contributes to the aquatic biodiversity

Ingenios azucareros siembran peces para contribuir con la diversidad

The conservation of biodiversity is one of the commitments of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, therefore it is one of the main axes of its the Environmental Policy. Within this framework, the sugar sector has implemented the fish stocking program in the rivers of the South of Guatemala.

The stocking of fish aims to increase the population of native species in rivers. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, with the support of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-, breed 3 species of native mojarras: Prieta, Tusa and Balcera; in addition to the freshwater snail, which reproduce in ponds and are released into rivers with the support of the community.

Los ingenios azucareros siembran peces para contribuir a la diversidadThe Sugar Industry in conjunction with the ICC have released around 50,000 fingerlings into three rivers of the South of Guatemala. The ICC conducts studies to analyze the fish population in various rivers of the South of Guatemala, with the aim of determining how the aquatic fauna is doing and prioritizing fish releases where necessary, always using native species.

The Environmental Policy of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, which began to be implemented in the 2015/16 zafra, regulates eight aspects: sugarcane burning, use and management of fertilizers, use of water, use of vinaza, use of water in the factory, solid waste management, particulates in chimneys and air quality; as well as protection of biodiversity. Every year improvements are made to achieve this objective of caring for the environment in its operation.

More than 900 thousand trees will be planted in 2021

the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched

Within the framework of National Tree Day, the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched, which for this year consists of the planting of 900 thousand trees in 10 departments of the country.

The planting of the 900 thousand trees takes place between May and August, on 400 hectares of land, which in the future will become forests in the departments of Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Escuintla, Suchitepequez, Retalhuleu, Jalapa, Solola, Sacatepequez , Jutiapa and Quetzaltenango.

The Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry began with a symbolic planting of 100 trees on a farm in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla; with which the forest cover in the area is increased. It should be noted that, since 2017, more than 2,700 trees have been planted in the area, reaching three hectares of forest.

The activity was attended by the Regional Delegate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources -MARN-, Eng. Juan Chamo; the Escuintla Subregional Director of the National Forest Institute -INAB-, Eng. Hugo Rene Monroy; the Manager of Environmental Compliance Manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-, Eng. Otto Fuentes; the Director of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-, Ph. D. Alex Guerra; as well as collaborators from the sugar mills and the media.

“As part of our commitment to the care and conservation of the environment, since 2011 the Guatemalan Sugar Industry started a program with the -ICC-, for the conservation and recovery of forests in strategic areas that contribute to the protection of riverbanks, zones of hydric recharge and biological corridors” affirmed Otto Fuentes, Manager of Environmental Compliance Manager of Asazgua.

the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched

Through this program, by the end of 2021, a total of 6.8 million trees will be planted in eleven years, with the support of the sugar sector,” said Alex Guerra, Director of the ICC. Likewise, he indicated that in each region native species are planted that serve as energy, timber, and conservation plantations; among them Cedar, Mahogany, Palo Blanco, among others”.

ICC provides technical and scientific support and advice and is the link with communities, organizations, municipal and regional authorities, for the installation of nurseries and identification of reforestation areas. The 900 thousand plants to be planted this year were produced in 88 nurseries installed in different locations. In addition, this program has the support of the National Institute of Forests -INAB-.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry works on restoration and conservation

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.

Soil conservation

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.

Legumes at Ingenio La Union

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.

Green fertilizer for environmental sustainability

Crotalaria flower

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry maintains its commitment to environmental sustainability, so through the Guatemalan Sugarcane Research and Training Center -Cengicaña-, have implemented the green fertilizer program.

Green fertilizer is part of the healthy soil program that some sugar mills have. This ecological measure consists of planting legumes that provide nitrogen to the soil reducing the use of commercial products.

In addition, it integrates crop rotation, intercropping, pest management, and soil conservation and nutrition in an environmentally friendly way.

Legumes and crop rotation

Legumes at Ingenio La Union
Photo courtesy of: Ingenio La Union

The cultivation of legumes as green fertilizer is a frequent practice in agriculture, in the case of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry crotalaria, a legume that produces a yellow flower, is used. Crotalaria is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family Fabaceae (subfamily Faboideae) commonly known as rattlepods.

Sugarcane cultivation is renewed every 5 years to maintain its yield and in the ideal areas, this renewal is used to nourish the soil with leguminous plants which grow and remain in the field between 6 and 8 months. Approximately 3 thousand hectares have been planted with crotalaria.

Legumes incorporate organic matter into the soil that provides nutrients, mainly nitrogen, one of the most important for plants and that will be used by subsequent crops.

Soil conservation and pest management

Legumes are the only group of plants that can capture nitrogen from the air and incorporate it into their organism. 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.

All these good practices are promoted by Cengicaña with the aim of integrally using biological elements that are sustainable with the environment for the cultivation of sugar cane.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry has planted 5.9 million trees to recover forests

Guatemalan Sugar Industry Reforestation Program

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry has planted 5.9 million trees from 2011 to date, as part of their reforestation plan in areas such as riverbanks and the upper part of the hydrographic basins, to improve the river’s water recharge capacity, and to transform the areas into biological corridors and also to contribute to the recovery and conservation of flora and fauna.

Guatemalan Sugar Industry Reforestation program

The Reforestation Program, implemented by the Sugar Mills through the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-, has among its priorities the recovery and conservation of the hydrographic basins of the rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean, in the face of climate change.

The program, in addition to recovering wetlands, water sources and riverbanks, has a factor of community involvement and support, since all the trees come from over a hundred local nurseries managed by the communities.

Guatemalan Sugar Industry Reforestation Program

In 2020 the Guatemalan Sugar Industry planted more than 818,000 trees, and in each region, native species are planted for conservation, energy and timber purposes, among them the species, Matilisguate, Puntero, Volador, Cedar, Mahogany, Palo Blanco, Mother Cacao and Plumillo.

The forest coverage study of the National Institute of Forests (INAB, 2019) reveals that between 2010 and 2016 forest coverage increased in the departments of the south of Guatemala in 37,857 hectares, equivalent to more than 25,800 soccer fields.