The banana crisis will be the first problem that Ecuador's new Minister of Agriculture will address

The new Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Ecuador, Bernardo Manzano, will meet with the leaders of the banana sector today, May 9, to address one of the pending issues of the State portfolio, the requests of the banana production sector. According to Franklin Torres, president (e) of the National Federation of Banana Growers of Ecuador (Fenabe), the meeting will also be attended by Francisco Jimenez, the government minister.

Torres said it's urgent to take measures to face the sector's crisis as, almost two and a half months after the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, producers are losing an average of $20 million per week and the minimum support price, which is currently set at $6.25 per box, is being disregarded.

Specifically, according to Acorbanec figures, Ecuador's banana exports between January and March 2022 have fallen by 7.37% compared to the same period of 2021. "The country has ceased exporting nearly 4.12 million boxes of bananas to Russia and Ukraine up until March 31, 2022, because of the sanctions imposed on Russia, the affected export logistics, and the non-receipt of payments by exporters," they said.

So far more than 3,000 banana producers have gone bankrupt and have abandoned their farms, which has caused the loss of more than 60,000 direct jobs and which will generate a collapse in fruit production in the coming months, Torres said.

In the meeting, Fenabe will continue to request the emergency declaration of the banana sector and the creation of a trust with the resources collected from the fines on new banana plantings, which would amount to $3.5 million, which would allow the Government to buy the product from small and medium-sized producers. This last point, according to Jimenez, was agreed on at the last meeting with the producers on April 22 and the producers gave the MAG until Tuesday, April 26, to deliver the document that enables the creation of the trust.

Despite warning the government that they would return to protests if the deadline was not met, the MAG has not submitted the document so far.



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