A project of reforms to the current norm for the banana sector is already in the Assembly. The sector expects its early analysis to gain competitiveness. The world banana reality calls for reforming the current Banana Law, so that the country improves productivity and competitiveness, said Richard Salazar, executive director of the Banana Marketing and Export Association.
Why the need to reform the Banana Law?
The current Law was issued in 1997 and, at that time, the banana reality was different. The main markets for our banana were the United States and Europe, which represented around 80% as a destination. Now, if we compare, these two markets together do not reach 43%, that is, nowadays, most of our fruit goes to places led by Russia, hence the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America … That is to say, the banana market of the country diversified … That’s right. A final example, in the current Banana Law there is a prohibition on sowing, including its commercialization.
When the norm was issued, there were 129,000 hectares, but in 2010, when it was the last reform to the Law, these increased to 210,000 ha, despite the prohibition, even all that fruit was exported.
And from 2010 to date, the hectares also increased?
The opposite happened, there was a reduction; currently it is estimated that there are around 180,000 ha, since many people changed cultivation.
For these reasons is it important to reform the Law?
It is. In 2017 there were the dialogues of the sectoral tables, among them the banana one, and the need to reform the current banana regulations was determined. We need a law that adapts to the needs of the market, with a focus on productive efficiency, since of the 180,000 hectares, 75% are from producers under 30 ha.
What are the most important points of the proposal?
That the minimum producer support price is maintained, but that it be set in a technical manner, in which the Ministry of Foreign Trade intervenes.
We want to formalize the spot price, that is, within a mutual agreement, that a banana seller sells his fruit in spot up to 30% of its production, while the exporter buys in spot up to 30% of its export quota. We have requested that there be a sanction to the exporter of up to 10% on the value evaded or not paid and that said value is delivered to the producer.
An article is also created to sanction the producer who fails a contract.
When do you want these reforms to be in force?
We have held working meetings with several members of the assembly, including Carlos Falquez, who has already presented a bill in the National Assembly, in which we agree on almost everything. He remains in the position that no more banana is sown, that in principle we do not agree, because we cannot close to new crops if the market grows. (I)