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Asbama, Colombia:

"Exporting bananas under the conditions imposed by Aldi is not viable"

The Banana Association of Magdalena and La Guajira (ASBAMA) commented on the recent announcement made by Aldi, the German retail chain, which stated it would unilaterally reduce the purchase price of the banana box by 60 cents in 2019. ASBAMA stated:

• The sector faces more and more challenges in terms of quality, and compliance with labor, social, and environmental responsibilities, which require substantial investments to meet the demands made by international markets. These investments are covered in their entirety by national producers and are presented by international marketers as achievements to the final consumer. Therefore, a unilateral reduction of the price would go against a production based on sustainability.

• The development of sustainable production practices in a scenario of lower income threatens the producers' economy, especially that of the almost 500 small producers in Magdalena, and their permanence in the external market, which would lead to a breakdown of the socio-cultural, business, and production structure of the department's banana sector.

• The cultivation of bananas is one of the few agricultural products that provides producers and workers with regular income throughout the year. Despite the high cost of sustaining the certifications required by the international markets, the Colombian banana sector continues to maintain 41,220 direct jobs and more than 120,000 indirect jobs. A reduction in the purchase price would affect the profitability of banana producers and companies in the country, which could result in a loss of jobs in the agricultural industry nationwide.

• According to official data, more than 45,000 hectares of banana in Colombia are certified by GLOBALGAP, about 21,200 hectares have Rainforest Alliance/SAN certification, almost 5,500 hectares have Fairtrade International certification, and there are approximately 3,000 hectares that have been certified as organic production; which are voluntary sustainability criteria or standards required by the markets that receive the fruit, but that are achieved thanks to the producers financial and technical effort.

• 85% of Colombian banana exports are destined for Europe, so a reduction in the purchase price of the fruit would have a significant direct impact on the income received by producers and workers who live from producing bananas for export, which would put the livelihoods of approximately 165,000 families nationwide and just over 50,000 families in our region at risk.

• The reduction in the purchase price of a box of banana goes against the pronouncements and actions of international organizations and institutions, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which lead different initiatives to promote sustainable production systems, the fair distribution of value along the supply chain, respect for labor rights, health and work safety, gender equality, and decent work in the banana industry worldwide.

Due to these reasons, we respectfully request Aldi reconsider this decision, which will affect the sustainability of an important production line that historically has generated employment, development, and promoted our region's and country's well-being.

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