As a consequence of the expansion of the pandemic, Honduran melon and watermelon exports during the first four months of the year amounted to 86.1 million dollars, i.e. 16.5% less than the 103.1 million dollars achieved in the same period of 2019, according to the foreign trade report of the Central Bank of Honduras (BCH).
According to the report, the drop in external sales was due to the 12.2% reduction in volume and to a decrease in orders, especially from the United States and the Netherlands, which together account for 87% of the country's fruit exports.
The fall in earnings is due to the 4.9% contraction in prices, the lowest in the last two years.
“The sanitary crisis produced by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected most of Honduras' export crops due to the reduction of demand, caused by the closing of markets in destination countries, and to an increase in production costs, ”said Erick Martínez, the director of the National Program for Agricultural Food Development (Pronagro), of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG).
Melon is the country's second most important agricultural export product after bananas, which contribute an average of about 400 million dollars to the economy each year.
During 2019, melon exports increased by 26 million dollars over the previous year. This increase was driven by better international prices (42.3%) and higher quantities shipped (6.9%). Melon exports that year stood at more than 92 million dollars.
The dynamism of the sector in key markets, such as the United States, continued in the first two months of the year with higher orders. However, it was hindered by the collapse in mid-March caused by the pandemic, according to a report by the specialized consultancy Agtools Inc.
The United States imports most of its melons from Guatemala (63%), Honduras (26%), and Costa Rica (10%). Moreover, it imports most of its watermelons from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.