Some 350 banana producers who collectively grow more than 1,350 hectares of bananas in the municipalities of San Rafael and Martinez de la Torre, in the center of the state of Veracruz, are facing a serious marketing crisis.
The fall in prices due to the excess of fruit in the state of Tabasco and a frost that damaged production in this area has forced peasants to throw away their crops or give them to livestock.
"When the temperature reaches 10 degrees in this area the fruit burns and that makes it lose value in the market because it no longer turns yellow, as people like it. Its taste, however, is still very good. It's even sweeter," said Juan Jose Rodriguez Velasco, a banana producer. "Production costs range between 2.50 and 3.00 pesos per kilo but the fruit is sold in the markets for 80 cents," he stated.
A crew of six people is cutting down the burned bananas in Juan Jose's plantation in the town of Cementeras, San Rafael. The fruit is then placed in a trailer and taken to a cattle ranch in Gutierrez Zamora, where it will be used as animal feed. Juan Jose has already destined 40 tons of bananas for livestock, but he says other locals have even left up to 8,000 clusters on the ground.
Facing this situation any other year would not have been a major problem, but on this occasion, there are other factors that have generated complications for months. In August 2021, Hurricane Grace, which struck Veracruz, destroyed crops and, since producers didn't get federal support, farmers had to spend their savings from the previous harvest to rebuild their plantations.
In addition, the price of fertilizers has increased by 200 to 300% due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, as the latter country is Mexico's main fertilizer supplier.