The associations of producers and exporters of banana are requesting an amendment to the current banana law and regulations to prevent the country from losing more competitiveness in the world market, to increase production, and to create new jobs.
To this end, the Association of Production, Marketing and Export of Bananas (Acorbanec), the Regional Corporation of Ecuadorean Banana Producers (Agroban), the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador (AEBE), and other groups are working on the analysis of the proposals that they will submit to the appropriate authorities. Richard Salazar, executive director of Acorbanec said it was necessary to have a comprehensive reform of the banana regulations that adjusts to the realities of the business. “What we really aspire to is eliminating sanctions and restrictions to promote production. (For now) we are working on a new banana policy, which we will recommend to this or the new government,” he said. One of the main requirements of the sector is to obtain permission to plant new hectares of fruit, which has been prohibited by the current legislation since 1996, Salazar said, after noting that Santa Elena had areas that were ideal for banana cultivation.
He said that the law had been issued 20 years ago because there was a saturation of plantations, with too much fruit, which had unbalanced the market. “When the ban was implemented there were about 130,000 hectares of bananas, but in 2010 there were nearly 210,000, almost half of the exportable supply was from new plantations, which were registered through the Production Code, as the law was amended to allowing enrolling new plantations,” he stated. Gustavo Marun, president of Agroban, said that there is currently a law that regulates the banana sector and that there were a number of regulations that complicated the activity. He said that the regulations should be revised because the country was working with a hard currency and competed with countries that had a devalued currency and lower costs, which decreased the sectors’ competitiveness on a daily basis.
“Guatemala has grown in production acreage; Costa Rica in productivity; Colombia in area, and its agricultural development plan threatens us. Geographically they are in a better position than us to offer their products to the world. The sale of Peruvian organic bananas is also growing and we are unable, by law, to continue planting; so we lose more and more space in the world market each day,” said Marun.
Other topics discussed are the productive development, certifying plantations, and financing for working capital and fixed assets on banana farms, especially of the small producers. Marun said they were studying the reforms, which they would present to this government’s Technical Committee of the Banana or to the new government. In this regard, Carol Chehab, undersecretary of Marketing at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Magap), said that if the banana sector required a change in the law they had to present their proposals to the National Assembly because the Executive power couldn’t change the law. According to data from the Institute for Export Promotion and Investment (PROECUADOR), Ecuador accounts for 30% of the global supply of bananas.