The Ecuadorian pitahaya opened a new market, that of China. This, after last Saturday the export protocol for the fruit was signed in that country, according to Julio José Prado, Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries.

Currently, 80 pitahaya producers out of the 1,500, who are dedicated to this activity, are already certified to export to the Asian giant and he calculates that until June, approximately 500 will be authorized.

“Our product will be able to enter the Chinese market, which will especially benefit small Ecuadorian producers of this fruit,” Prado announced through his Twitter account.

Ecuador exported 17,895 tons of the fruit in 2021, 60% more than in 2020 when 11,260 tons were shipped.

The signing of this protocol is part of the activities that were developed by the visit of the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, to his counterpart Xi Jinping; during which ministers of state held meetings with their Chinese counterparts.

For Gabriel Cruz, president of the Pitahaya Producers Association of the Palora canton, in Morona Santiago, a province where 65% of the registered production sites are concentrated, the start of exports to China “is a fact”; and he projects that they will start next June.

The sector has been preparing for this, said Cruz, who explained that until now pitahaya could not enter the Chinese market due to the requirement of Good Agricultural Practices certifications.

The leader assured that currently 80 producers of the 1,500, who are dedicated to this activity, are already certified to export to the Asian giant and calculates that until June there will be approximately 500 qualified .

Regarding expectations, Cruz assured that they are high for the sector, since they calculate that the Chinese market can consume up to three times that of the United States, currently the main destination of pitahaya with just over 84% of exports, is say, about 15,000 tons .

Meanwhile, apart from the signing of the protocol, Prado also pointed out that “the correct path is the opening of markets, not setting prices in a sector with a very high potential for growth and export,” referring to the sector’s request to the Government to to issue a law to control the overproduction that causes prices to fall; and that a minimum support price be established for the fruit.

Cruz does not share Prado’s position, assuring that despite the signing of the protocol, whose content has not yet been socialized, setting prices for the sector is important.

“For our sector it is very important that we reach an agreement on prices per season, based on a minimum price of $2.5 per kilo of fresh fruit for export,” said the leader, who added about the protocol: ” We have to wait since each market sends the technical parameters that both producers and exporters have to comply with.”

Meanwhile, he assured that it is very important that the State help lower the cost of inputs, eliminating tariffs, promoting competition, giving access to technology and soft loans to invest in infrastructure.

“That way the farmer will be able to be more productive, lower his cost per kilo and in turn have better profitability,” Cruz said. (I)