More than ten independent agricultural companies with farms in Higuerito, Guachias, and other communities, which provided bananas to Chiquita and Dole for decades, have been unable to recover from the devastation caused by storms Eta and Iota because they couldn't find financial support for the past two years.
As a result, more than 5,000 people lost their jobs, more than 1,900 hectares are no longer producing fruit, and there are critical economic effects in Santa Cruz de Yojoa, La Lima, Santa Rita, El Progreso, Pimienta, Villanueva, San Manuel, and Potrerillos.
"It's a serious situation. We've been unable to recover because we have not found financing in private banking. The banks are outraged when they find out we need resources to grow bananas. Israel has a project called Green 2000 and they want to invest €175 million in nine projects in Honduras. They want to invest €35 million in bananas to help these farms that are at zero. That money is there, but neither the previous nor the current government has supported us as a guarantee so it reaches the country,” said Elvin Melendez, president of the Llano Agricultural Company.
According to Melendez, Green 2000 allows producers to pay back the money in 15 and 20 years at a 1% interest rate, which are better conditions than the ones offered by the national banks.
“We have notified the Minister of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) about this, and she informed the Minister of Finance about Green 2000. We have met with Salvador Nasralla and with Minister Pedro Barquero and we still have received no answer. We are not asking the government for money, we are only asking for their support,” he said.
"We are concerned because as time passes, the chances of reactivating the farms are lower. We urgently need support. The prices of agricultural inputs have risen too much in two years, the balers are abandoned and they deteriorate by the day. The past government and this government have not given this the importance they should. We had 1,100 employees and 5,500 people depended economically on them,” said Pablo Contreras, a partner at Compañía Agricola Barranco.
Maynor Velasquez, manager of the Association of National Banana Producers (Aprobana), is worried that the companies will not be able to reactivate the farms and packing plants this year because some groups could take advantage of this situation to invade the lands, which would cause big conflicts.