Banapiña, a subsidiary of the multinational Del Monte, is scheduled to start exporting bananas produced in the province of Chiriqui to the western United States market on February 11.
This is the first result of the reactivation of the district of Baru, after the area fell into a deep economic slowdown after the collapse of the Puerto Armuelles Multiple Services Cooperative, RL (Coosemupar), in 2010.
The ship will depart from the port of Caldera in Costa Rica, where Banapiña manages other production lines. "The company decided to do a little economy of scale, because the port of Puerto Armuelles has to be adapted to use it," said the head of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA), Eduardo Enrique Carles, yesterday.
Currently, the reactivation of the banana plantations generates 300 direct jobs and another 200 indirect ones, not taking into account the economic spill that will begin to occur in that area and in the province of Chiriqui.
This year alone, Banapiña plans to export 1.4 million boxes of bananas at a rate of 15,000 boxes per week, said Carles.
In the first seven years of investment, the company plans to hire more people and generate 3,000 direct jobs. In addition, in that period of time, the company will produce bananas in nearly 4,737 hectares.
In the decade of the 1990s, Panama exported around 42 million boxes of bananas per year, with a total export value of $ 200 million.
The banana, also known as 'green gold', is produced for export in the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui. Today the Atlantic area's profits reach $ 120 million. The Pacific side is expected to rebound in the next seven years, through an investment of $ 100 million.
Regarding the invaders -producers who have occupied the land without property title-, the minister said that they were in the process of indemnification of 350 producers with $ 1.1 million; It is a very complex administrative and legal process that is being carried out in the area," Carles added.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, Alberto Aleman Arias, said that in the last two years bananas accounted for 15% of Panamanian exports.
He also said that these shipments would initially reach the US market; but that the country was also exporting this fruit to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other markets.
Carles said that the reactivation of the district of Baru not only covered the banana farms but also involved the construction of streets, hospitals, and other basic services.