Tropical storm Eta has hit a country that was already hurting from the negative economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the productive sector. During the critical months of the health crisis, the agricultural sector was one of the few activities that had managed to continue to grow; however, Eta has caused damage to a considerable amount of crops for local consumption and has caused heavy losses in an important export product, bananas.
The banana sector estimates that 8,000 hectares of crops have been lost due to the floods, i.e. more than half of the 15,000 hectares existing in Honduras.
"I think this is the biggest damage in history for bananas," said producer Hector Castro. The leader estimates that at least 16,000 direct jobs are in danger and that the export volume will decrease.
As of last August, agricultural product exports had increased by 10.7% over the same period of 2019, totaling $ 631.0 million, thanks to the $63.6 million year-on-year increase in banana exports, mainly to the United States. The volume of fruit shipments fell by 4.6%, but the average international price increased by 26.3%, according to data reported by the Central Bank.
As the floods caused by Eta continue to recede, hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses, and farmers across the country begin to tally the damages.
"Honduras will be left in a very weak situation due to the blow this will have on the government's finances on the private sector," said Mateo Yibrin, a businessman from San Pedro.
“We all have to be aware that getting out of this won't be easy. 2021 is going to be an economically very complicated and complex year. We must be honest and speak the truth: people will suffer from lack of employment, lack of investment, hunger, and companies too, so the outlook is not encouraging." According to Yibrin, full recovery will take years.