The Canarian banana sector falters after three decades of being protected by Europe

The Canarian banana started this year with difficulties. The obligation to establish a minimum price and the impossibility of selling at a loss, as proposed by the draft reform of the food chain law, harms a product that has been protected by Europe for almost three decades.

Their relationship officially began in 1993 with the entry into force of the Common Market Organization (CMO) in the banana sector in the EU, which ensured a balance between the different banana supply sources on the market. Back then, the Minister of Agriculture, Pedro Solbes, defended a protection scheme that, with the passage of time, no longer seduces the EC. At that time, the banana producers of the islands, with the support of the prime ministers Irishmen Ibert Reynolds and John Bruton, broke the isolation of France, Spain, and Portugal in defense of this crop in the islands.

Three markets for plantains and bananas coexisted in the EU until the summer of 1993: the European market, the countries of the ACP area (Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific), and the dollar environment. The European market was composed of France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. The business was differentiated between those that applied preferential and liberalized barriers and where their importers operated in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, and Luxembourg. That's why getting Ireland to back up the thesis of the Spanish banana producers was so important.

According to Carolina Luis, a graduate in Economics from the University of La Laguna, "since the launch of the banana CMO in July 1993, the Canarian banana sector has been subjected to constant adaptation in accordance with the numerous changes in regulatory regulations of this product." The island product is witnessing a progressive loss of market share to the benefit of bananas, which has been accentuated especially after 2006 when the Council adopted a profound reform of the CMO to adapt it to regional realities, she added.

Thus, in 2005 bananas covered 24% of the total available supply and in 2014 it already represented 53% of the apparently available supply.

Three decades later, the Canary Islands account for 50% of the employment generated by the production of plantains and bananas in the European Union's Outermost Regions (ORs). The Canarian banana, with a protected geographical indication, generates 12,000 direct jobs, more than 3,000 indirect jobs, and has 9,000 producers. Banana production in Guadeloupe and Martinique supports 600 farmers, generating 6,000 direct and 4,000 indirect jobs. In Madeira, this same crop supports 2,800 producers and generates 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.



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