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Nicaragua: Banana exports lose value

According to statistics from the Center for Export Procedures (CETREX) and different producers, the positive trend registered in banana exports in the first two months of the year was reversed in the following months as exports declined because of a fall in prices.

Between January and August of this year the average price paid for a kilogram of Nicaraguan banana, which is mainly grown in the west of the country, decreased by 33.1%.

As a result of this fall, the value of bananas exports between January 1 and August 31 decreased by 20.2% over the same period of last year.

Nicaraguan banana exports in the first eight months of this year amounted to US $ 5.9 million, which is lower than the US $ 7.4 million achieved in the same period of last year.

Meanwhile, the volume exported increased by 3.7%. According to Cetrex statistics, between January and August of this year the country exported 28,782.8 tons of bananas. In the same period of 2017, it shipped out 27,752.8 tons.

Alfonso Callejas, a producer and exporter of bananas said this behavior was cyclical: "There's always a reduction in the first half of the year, but the sector recovers in the second half of the year," he said.

Producers still expect that this year's banana production and exports will be higher.

The country's banana exports had a rebound in 2017 and amounted to more than US $10 million. In 2016, exports barely amounted to US $4.4 million.

Due to this upturn, bananas were one of the top 20 products of Nicaragua's export basket. In addition, it ranked as the fifth highest valued agricultural product in 2017.

According to producers, last year bananas rebounded thanks to the increase in planting areas, the modernization of production processes, and the opening of new markets.

According to Callejas, this year the crops haven't been seriously affected by climate change and the ash fall-out from western volcanoes.

According to the president of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Nicaragua (APEN), Guillermo Jacoby, banana prices have decreased because there is too much supply in the international market.

But not all producers are selling at a lower price. According to Callejas, "the price of the product he is selling hasn't decreased." He also said that he no longer had problems with the quality standard demanded by buyers.

"I sell my products to the countries of northern Europe, from there it is distributed to other countries," he said.


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