2016: A difficult year for Ecuador’s banana sector

Ecuador is expecting 2016 to be tough year for the banana sector (the country’s main export product following petrol).

All of Hacienda Mateo’s harvest this January is exclusively for American company Dole, one of the world’s leading fruit company’s. Harvest, transport to warehouses and packaging is all carried out quickly on this 280 hectare farm which is amongst the 7,000 small and medium banana producers. 

Russia buys 95% of their bananas from Ecuador, but a rapid decrease in the value of the rouble is limiting their buying powers. However, they remain the main Ecuadorian banana client, taking in up to 23% of production. “Eduardo Ledesma, Executive Director of the Association of Banana Exporters in Ecuador (AEBE) says that “Russia is late in paying, but has always paid until now. They are a big buyer. We need to keep them”. According to the AEBE, last year until September, the Russians bought 2.6% less than over the same period in 2014. 

Quito is fighting to maintain their position on the EU market, which is it’s main client but also where it faces direct competition from European producers (Canary Islands in Spain, Madera in Portugal and the French Antilles), African, Caribbean and Pacific producers and the rest of Latin America. Ecuador has been the leader in this market for a long time, but there is currently a delay signing a commercial sales agreement.

The situation could become even worse as heavy rain from El Nino could affect 20-30% of production. Freddy Barros, Administrator at the AEBE, says that “excess rain affects bananas, the soil saturates with water and the bananas suffer under stress which causes damage.”

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