Honduras: Banana profitability at risk

"We are concerned. We are suffocated because Standard Fruit has not set the price of fruit. That will force us to close farms and make a change of sector to survive, "said Pedro Avila, manager of Las Guanchias, a banana producing company.

The crisis has affected other banana producers from other regions, including Casmul in San Manuel, Cortes, Agricultural Company Los Olivos and Los Llanos, which have facilities in Higuerito, Santa Cruz de Yojoa, and other companies in El Progreso. Combined, these companies have more than 2,000 hectares in production and have been an important source of employment for hundreds of men and women for several decades.

If the situation does not improve, there is the risk that there will be massive layoffs and unemployment will rise.

Avila added that they all sold their products to the Standard and that the price per box has improved every year, except in 2014. Additionally, he stated, they had been told prices would drop 10 cents in 2015.

"Currently, Standard Fruit pays between $6 and $7 dollars per box. It's hard to continue operating because of our high energy costs, minimum wages and other expenses. If this does not improve, we will have to close down farms and cultivate palms, which cost less," he said. He also stated they were expecting the government to intervene and have a discussion with the executives of the transnational company about the issue.

Thanks to these banana organizations, the country exports more than three million boxes of fruit to the US market and generates income every year.

Óscar López, president of the Olivo farm, said they were working with loans and that the interests were suffocating them. Employees fear they will lose their jobs.
Hector Ferrera, manager of Standard, said he wasn't authorized to speak on the subject.

Source: El Progreso, Honduras

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