Dole Food Company has announced this week that Bananito, a Dole banana farm located in Limón, Costa Rica, has received a 'Plan A' farming award from UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S).

According to the group, the M&S award recognises and promotes farmers and growers who are taking steps to improve the sustainability of their business.

'Many customers who visited Bananito have been impressed by the farm's housing, medical, education, environmental and social programs,' said Danilo Román, general manager of Standard Fruit de Costa Rica. 'This formal recognition of our programmes goes right to the heart of what Bananito's employees work toward every day for the community at large. We are very proud of their effort and will donate the award to our workers' associations for their reinvesting in family activities.'

The award, along with the £1,000 (US$1,600, €1,200) prize from M&S, was recently accepted at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in Wales by Dole's director of sustainability Roberto Vega and Dole Fresh UK's Justin Hudson.

'Like our other Dole farms in Costa Rica, Bananito is actively engaged in reducing the carbon footprint of our operations as part of a joint commitment with the Government of Costa Rica in 2007,' said Mr Vega.

Covering 850ha, Bananito has been producing bananas since 1989, and supplies M&S as well as other customers.