According to Julio Cesar Estevez Guzman, executive director of the Dominican Association of Banana Producers (Adobanano), the changes that the European Union has made to the banana import protocols could threaten the sustainability of the Dominican production. On January 14, the country was notified that, as of February 3, the control certificate (IOC) that must accompany the banana cargo must be delivered to the port before the ship leaves.
At present, said certification is managed and sent to the buyer five to six days after finishing loading the containers, and as Estevez Guzmán explains, the procedures do not allow shortening those deadlines to adjust to the new requirements.
He said that the packing and assembly of the load take five days. Once the banana production is packed and the sales invoice is issued, the exporter must send it to a certifying firm outside the country, which has up to two days to make the verifications and issue the certification. Given this procedure, since the ship does not spend 36 hours in port, the manager fears that the fruit will remain at the dock because the IOC certification would not arrive on time.
The other option, he says, is sending the cargo without certification and selling the organic production as if it were a conventional one, which implies a loss in the price of at least 2 dollars for each 18.14-kilogram box. According to figures from Adobanano, which brings together some 1,800 producers throughout the country, the country exports nearly 380,000 boxes of bananas a week, 80% of which corresponds to the organic variety.
The president of Adobanano complained that nowadays banana growers must adopt, by requirements of the European Union, a new grouping scheme for certifications, since as of 2021 every producer that has more than 5 hectares must have his own exporter certification. Currently, producers who have up to 30 hectares in production are allowed to group under the same certification to export. A certification costs about US $1,500 a year.