Costa Rica's melon production and exports are facing a sharp decline. According to data from the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer), before the emergency due to the pandemic, the value of the country's melon exports in the first seven months of the year had fallen by 19% between 2015 and 2019 going from $ 68 million to $ 55 million in the aforementioned period.
The drop in exports was accentuated by the pandemic. In the first seven months of 2021, Costa Rican melon exports amounted to $ 29 million, i.e. 57% less than in the same period of 2015.
The planting area also reflects the decline of this productive sector. In 2015, the country had 5,566 hectares planted with melons, according to data from the Executive Secretariat of Agricultural Sector Planning (Sepsa). In 2020 (the latest data available), the sowing area had fallen to 3,394 hectares.
It's worth noting that, back in 2006, when this new product promoted by the export diversification program was still flourishing, the country planted 12,000 hectares with this fruit.
Wendy Vargas, president of the National Chamber of Melon and Watermelon Producers and Exporters (Canapems) said the sector's situation has been complicated for several years and that the union is looking for possible solutions.
One of them was to request a market study from Procomer, which is close to being published. Vargas said the analysis might expose the existence of markets for added-value products, such as juices, frozen fruit, preserves, and even dog food.
Canapems also requested help from Procomer to carry out a campaign in Europe to promote the Costa Rican melon. The promotion campaign would focus on the fruit's quality, its sustainable and environmentally friendly production, and that it is in the hands of small producers.