The measure proposed by Hitler Alvarez, the mayor of El Guabo, of stopping banana shipments for at least a week to prevent the spread of coronavirus among workers engaged in this agricultural activity, could lead to millions in losses for the region.
The banana leadership of El Oro assured that the measure was very drastic and that it could put the Ecuadorian economy at risk. According to Paul González, a leader of the sector, paralyzing the banana activity is irresponsible because it would lead to a loss of more than 6 million dollars a week.
There are currently 55,000 hectares planted with bananas in the province, 50% of which are in El Guabo, which generate around 700,000 boxes of fruit per week. "Banana producers are sustaining the country in this crisis because oil prices fell by more than 50% and the aquaculture sector is also going through a bad patch," Gonzalez said.
Banana producers argue that they are working under strict safety regulations to protect their personnel, which were activated after the alert of a possible expansion of the Fusarium to the plantations, guaranteeing the protection of personnel with the delivery of gloves, masks, and supplies for their use.
Another of the adopted measures focuses on the issue of shipping, carrying out this work in less time, going from 5 days to no more than 3, so that workers avoid being exposed.
Producers say that people's lives are more important than money, but they also state that paralyzing activities is not the solution because production is currently peaking.
"We are all prone to getting infected by the coronavirus, and not necessarily in the plantations," Gonzalez stressed.