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There have been losses in production and of markets because of the black sigatoka

29,000 hectares of banana lost in Ecuador

Nearly 30,000 acres of banana crops have been lost, and the fruit's price has increased.

The main problems faced by banana producers and exporters in Ecuador are the decline in activity, the black sigatoka plague in plantations and the fall in demand in the markets of the northern European Union, the Mediterranean, the East and Africa.

Issues which occupied much of the Banana World Summit's agenda, held in Guayaquil.

The first problem was identified by the banana cadastral survey of the Ministry of Agriculture. According to the registry, Ecuador's productive areas declined from 200,000 hectares to 171,000 hectares between January 2012 and February 2013. More than 7,000 hectares, out of the 171,000, are still not legalized, as mandated by government regulations.

Banana producer, Leopoldo Cano, from the province of El Oro, is more pessimistic; he believes that the crop's area decline exceeds 60,000 hectares.

Cano says many farmers switched from growing bananas for cocoa, cassava and palm. "Many were unable to legalize their plantations and others were affected by the black sigatoka."

Combating this fungus, one of the main evils threatening the Ecuadorian fruit, represents a cost between $800 and $1,000 per hectare for producers, 35% of the harvest's total costs.

Banana plantations require at least 15 cycles of spraying to combat the sigatoka on the leaves of the plant, which in turn costs $5000 per application.

Additionally, Ecuadorian bananas, which moves nearly $1,700 million a year, has lost market share against Colombia, Peru and the countries of Central America.

Ecuador exported 190 million boxes between January and September 2012, and declined to 189 million boxes in the same period of 2013, according to figures from the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador.

While the Ecuadorian fruit costs $8.95 per box, the competing countries prices are between $8 and $8.35. Expectations are that in 2014, at least during the first quarter, the price difference, in relation to other countries, doesn't exceed 35¢. (NMCH)

Source: hoy

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