In May 2018, the Regional Corporation of Ecuadorian Banana Producers (Agroban), the Banana Marketing and Export Association (Acorbanec), and other actors in the chain hired The University of California Davis (UC Davis) to carry out a Sustainability Study of Ecuador's banana production, which revolved around four types of common capital indicators: human, social and political, physical and financial, and natural indicators. After a year marked by COVID and by a drop in prices in world markets, the results are known.
According to UC Davis' study, the banana industry continues to be economically healthy and socially sustainable. “However, taking into account the impacts of COVID-19, climate change, and the incidence of pathogens, the sector must continue investing and innovating in the production and export chains. The positive impact that production has on the country in terms of jobs and social development should not be overlooked, that's why having a fair price is essential to maintain and develop the sector,” stated Richard Salazar, the administrator of Acorbanec.
According to the study, there are opportunities to invest more in regard to banana production patterns and dependence on chemicals. Adequate financing will contribute to sustainable development in the country and the Latin American region in general.
The impact of COVID-19
Despite all the complications generated by the pandemic, banana exports didn't stop, except during the months of greatest confinement when ships could not enter ports. Up until September, the sector exported 286.98 million boxes, i.e. 6.95% more than in the same period of 2019.
The US and the EU accounted for 36.86% of all exports. The remaining 63.14% was exported to other markets that are very different from each other; some buy with contracts, others make spot purchases, and others only purchase bananas at certain times of the year, Salazar stated. Many of them have been experiencing economic problems, such as Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa; others have been economically sanctioned and/or their currencies have had high devaluations, affecting demand.
Before the pandemic, the world was already experiencing strong trends regarding artificial intelligence, robotics, and actions to stop climate change. The irruption of the pandemic will probably reinforce these trends. "Now more than ever, biotechnology and info-technology can help us find solutions to manage these problems," he stated.