In a recent interview to Expreso, Juan Jose Pons, a producer of bananas and coordinator of the four banana unions, analyzed the security measures that are being carried out to prevent the spread of the Fusarium pest detected in Colombia.
“The first thing we need to be clear about is that the Fusarium Race 4 has been around and has been in Asia for 20 or 25 years. The Philippines has been able to manage it and, even with this pest, Philippine exports have increased. That being said, we must strengthen the plans that we were already working on in Ecuador and apply biosafety measures quickly.”
According to Pons, the first effective measure would be to "control borders, airports, and ports and apply all disinfection processes to the entry of goods, people, and vehicles into Ecuador." Currently, Agrocalidad and the Ministry of Agriculture are working on this.
According to the entrepreneur, Fusarium is a problem that affects the entire country. “The banana sector moves 5,500 containers per week in the ports and generates 400,000 jobs in Ecuador. If the banana has problems, the Ecuadorian economy has problems."
Regarding the political implication of this crisis, Pons said: “The Ministry of Agriculture has to be supported by the entire Government, including sectional governments, so that they work with the producers in their province. In addition, the Ministry of Finance must provide the resources required by Agrocality and the Ministry of Agriculture. They said they had allocated 18 million dollars to them, but so far they have not received that money.”
Pons ended the interview with a reassuring message: “The four guilds are united since January 2019; the exporting unions, AEBE and Acorbanec, and the producers, Agroban and the Chamber of Agriculture. We are working in a coordinated manner in the formation of medium and long-term policies and strategies that guarantee the sustainability and competitiveness of Ecuadorian bananas, regardless of the R4.”