As a result of the audits carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) of Ecuador, 12 banana exporting companies already paid a total of $657,876.25 for the non-payment of the Minimum Fruit Sustainability Price.
The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Bernardo Manzano, said that, according to the audits, banana exporting companies have to pay a total of 1,347,369, 25 dollars to small producers. "We will ensure that banana growers receive a fair price for their product. We work to support them and to ensure that their rights are respected," the minister said.
"The audits seek to make the banana business transparent and ensure that it is an efficient and profitable sector, where small producers receive adequate payment for their work. The institution, producers, and exporters must work together to achieve this," the Minister added.
The MAG began audits of 260 banana companies: 245 exporting companies and 15 associations. The objective is to verify that they are paying the minimum support price of the fruit box, set at 6.25 dollars.
By the end of August, 72 requests for audits had been submitted to exporters and, as a result, 35 administrative inquiries had been initiated.
Thanks to the complaints made, there are 9 cases for non-payment through the Interbank Payment System (SPI); 26 complaints for non-payment of the Minimum Sustainability Price (19 written and 7 verbal), and 7 cases for false shipment plans, all of which the MAG closely monitors to support producers.
The audits are part of the MAG'S Emerging Plan for the Banana Sector to support small banana producers. The plan also includes economic subsidies for crops affected by the Black Sigatoka pest and agricultural inputs to improve production, the MAG stated.
The audit process can last about two months. They start with the producer's verbal or written complaint, which must be made up to 60 days after having delivered the fruit so that it does not have to go to other legal instances.
The small producer can make the complaint, register the purchase and sale contract at the MAG, and review the clauses of the contract so that there are no ambiguities that harm them.