The Ministers of Agriculture of Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador; and the delegates from the Dominican Republic and Panama agreed to promote an amount of compensation, before international markets, for banana producers and exporters from their countries.

Ecuador is one of the largest banana producers and exporters in the world.

This, under the concept of shared responsibility and in the face of the rise in the production costs of the fruit and the shipping freight that the large chains of distributors in the international markets do not recognize and that are absorbed by the producers and exporters.

This problem was analyzed this Wednesday at the Latin American Summit by the Banana Unit, which took place online and was convened by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Ecuador, Pedro Álava.

“We are not here to complain about our current situation, no, but so that there is a unanimous voice that claims our rights,” Álava said when declaring the summit opened.

In the meeting, which lasted approximately one hour, each country analyzed its situation.

Regarding the amount of compensation, Alfredo Saltos, former Minister of Agriculture of Ecuador, who participated as moderator of the meeting, explained that he must establish as a reference the parameters already used in the only certification that recognizes exogenous impacts and sustainability efforts in the chain. of production and export based on the minimum reference price per country and per “Fair Trade” certified product that analyzes the particularities of each country and a price of one dollar per additional box.

Rodolfo Zea, Minister of Agriculture of Colombia, pointed out that the export of bananas, which represents 5.3% of that country’s agricultural GDP, generated $9 million in 2021 by sending 1,200 tons to international markets.

“We have been subjected by the marketers of the buying countries,” said Zea, who indicated that the prices they pay for the fruit have gone down, as he recalled that in 2015 a kilo of bananas was paid at 47 cents, while which is now paid 0.45 cents.

For Renato Alvarado, Minister of Agriculture of Costa Rica, the problem “does not seem to be solved in the short term”, for which he indicated that they must work together and above all work and talk with the shipping companies ‘because the issue is outside of control’.

“Let’s raise our voices to demand that our Latin American countries be paid a fair price for our products, we cannot be subject to a voracious and ruthless market…”, said the Costa Rican official.

The Minister of Agriculture of Guatemala, José Ángel López, proposed the creation of working groups between the participating countries and taking actions to start a process of searching for alternatives in all the links of the chain.

“If the actions are not sustainable, banana production and food security are put at risk,” said López.

For his part, Mauricio Guevara, Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras, lamented that the problems addressed are added to an existing problem on food sovereignty in the countries of the region.

Banana is the second largest export item in Honduras or at least it was until 2018 when there were 14,000 hectares of bananas that generated $531 million for that country, which today has seen its production decimated by the storm by 60%. .

“More than 60% of the banana plantations were lost due to the hurricanes… we have lost the market because we have not had national production and they import from Costa Rica for national consumption,” explained Guevara, who indicated that they are in the reconstruction phase.

Guevara indicated that he will put the new authorities of his country in the context of the meeting, since he has eleven days left to deliver the position.

Meanwhile, Darío Vargas, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic, clarified that the banana problem is not a government issue with the European Union, but rather with clients in Europe, and pointed out that a study by country is necessary to know the increase in prices that everyone must need for there to be equity.

Vargas added that the call to the meeting was opportune for his country, as they seek to know and learn from the experiences that the countries of the region have had with Fusarium Race 4, another of the topics that were addressed at the meeting.

On the plague, the ministers and delegates agreed to create an alliance for the management of international resources to combat Fusarium Race 4 in phytosanitary research, training and dissemination measures.

Lastly, Saltos indicated that the countries participating in the summit will make a joint face-to-face or virtual visit to the Fruit Logística Fair that will be next April in Berlin and an agenda in Brussels to promote regional objectives.