The process to regularize the banana farms that lack authorization has already begun in Ecuador, after last week the Ministry of Agriculture published the steps and the details of the forms that the interested parties need to fill out to regularize their farms.
Producers who have planted bananas without authorization must present the documentation along with the request to legalize them. They must also acknowledge their responsibility in the violation of article 8 of the Law to Stimulate and Control the Production and Marketing of Bananas, which more than a decade ago declared new plantings illegal.
The regularization will not only give these producers the peace of mind that they don’t have to cut down their plants, but it will also allow them to sell their bananas under contract or gain access to credit.
According to the provision, once the documentation has been received by the Musáceas Strategic Positioning Directorate or the unit that takes its place in the Ministry, a technician will be appointed to carry out an in-situ technical inspection of the site in up to 10 days to calculate the phenological age of the plantations that were planted without prior authorization up to August 15, 2020.
This technician will verify the requested area, comparing it with the information available in the banana control system, banana cadastre, and satellite tool.
Within five days from the conclusion of the inspection, the technician will give the Director of Strategic Positioning of Musaceae, the geo-referential in situ inspection report that expressly contains the name of the producer, the location of the property, the unauthorized planting area, and the georeferenced map of the property.
The owner of the farm must pay a fine of nearly 600 dollars per hectare. The fine can be paid at BanEcuador and the money collected will be earmarked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. The Government hopes to raise about 15 million dollars this way and will use this money to create a relief fund for small producers, especially during times of low prices.
With this Executive Decree, the Government takes a step to legalize thousands of hectares of illegal banana crops. According to the Banana Marketing and Export Association (Acorbanec), there are nearly 25,000 hectares of illegal crops in the country (12% of the total).