Daabon Plantations in Colombia
Daabon is a family owned and managed company, built on the passion and commitment of three generations of the Davila family.
Land in the Santa Marta region has almost solely been used for agriculture. The region has been developed on the back of cattle rearing and various crops, including corn, rice, cotton, and bananas from the early 1900's when most of the land was owned by the US-based United Fruit Company.
The majority of company-owned land was acquired by Davila-Abondano family in the form of estates dating back 3 generations to the 1950's. The family originally used the land for cattle rearing, but has since converted it to organic palm in the late 1980's.
Its headquarters and farms are located in the beautiful Santa Marta region. The tree farms are flanked by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. In this area, beautiful Caribbean beaches and snow-capped mountain peaks are only a few miles apart and bird-watchers love the region for its many endemic species of birds.
Daabon has over 15,000 acres of highly productive certified organic land (including conservation areas) in three privately owned plantations. There are relatively small tracts of remaining primary and secondary forest in the region. These are legally owned by Daabon, and they have no intention of logging the forests. Ever since the land was acquired, Mr. Alberto Davila has always been very committed to preserving and protecting the only remaining natural forest left in the area.
Today, the company considers these natural forest areas as great assets, not only because it is the last piece of untouched land (birds, monkeys, and "palm bears" live there), but because it actually serves as a neutralizer for the natural species that protect the organic crops.
To sustain the natural richness of their region, Daabon works hard to prevent any loss of flora and fauna in areas of operation, which are home to more than 400 bird species and 154 types of mammals. Where Daabon plantations border waterways, they maintain buffer zones of a minimum of 50 feet. In addition, they have set aside or restored more than 10% of land to create wildlife corridors, which allow animals to roam through plantations undisturbed. Where possible they have set aside more than 40% of the total farmland. Daabon's organic pest management program uses only species which are naturally occurring in the region.
Daabon Supports Organic Practices for Smallholders
The Daabon Group employs just over 1600 people directly, but also supports local employment by providing assistance to over 450 smallholders who are organized in Allianzas (co-ops). This model has been used for the past 10 years, and great results for our local communities. All Co-op members are trained to apply the same environmental, social and agricultural standards we use on our farms. Daabon also buys fresh fruit from 200 small farmers who participate in an audited sustainable and fair trade agriculture program.
Nature of Work
In the palm oil plantations there are various jobs that are done on a daily basis but rotated by the age of the crops. A "cuadrilla" is composed of: a "buffalo driver", a "picker" and a "cutter".
These tasks are rotated every month, so the buffalo driver is going to be the cutter next month, and so on. Every cuadrilla has a manager that is responsible for the lot and the people on it; the number of cuadrillas varies depends on the size of the lot. There is an agricultural manager that meets daily with the lot managers to debrief the day's work. Every farm has administrative staff that manages pay checks, inventory and other tasks. Daabon gives preference to local employees in hiring procedures.
The composting plant has its own people and manager. There is usually a quality inspector, a tractor driver, "baggers" (providing compost for the Banana Plantations), and a general service person that works the pumps and organizes the direction of the compost piles.
Field employees work 8 hour shifts, from 7:00a.m. to 12:00p.m and from 2:00p.m to 5:00p.m. Lunch is provided in every farm in facilities specially designed by Daabon for this purpose. Potable water is also available and employees are encouraged to fill receptacles and use it in their homes as well, since access to drinking water is not provided by the town.
The mill also has its own staff and administrative service specialized in certain jobs. There is a permanent flow of truck drivers, fork lifters, HSQE (Health, Safety, Quality, and Environmental) personnel, quality assurance, laboratory assistants, general services (cooks and cleaning) and mechanics.
Daabon owns its own mills, refineries and bulk terminals. They are able to control every aspect of operation and resource use, because it owns and operates the processing plants and shipping terminals.