Despite the agreement reached last Monday between banana producers and exporters that set the price of a box of fruit at $6.50 for export, which will take effect from 2023, there are complaints and observations from a group of producers who point out that the consensus was not complete.
This is how he did it this Friday Segundo Solano, banana leader from the province of El Oro and member of the National Federation of Banana Growers of Ecuador (Fenabe), by pointing out that the fixed price harms producers and does not reflect the real cost of producing a box of bananas for export.
Solano’s complaint, who said that close to 20,000 hectares and 60,000 jobs have been lost in the banana sector, was directed specifically at the FOB value that was approved together with the minimum support price for the fruit, which added together gives the total value that the importer (customer from international markets) must pay for the box of bananas.
Banana producers and exporters agreed on the export price of a box of bananas at $6.50
The FOB price includes costs such as packaging, labeling, exit customs expenses (paperwork, permits, documents and other requirements paid), expenses within the port, such as loading and stowage.
Solano assured that the FOB price was set at $2.16, which, added to the minimum support price of $6.50, results in a final price of $8.86 per box of bananas. However, he assured that this FOB value is fictitious, citing that the export sector itself had indicated that the FOB value was $3.92, which would result in a total price of $9.42.
“The numbers do not add up because they set the cost at $2.16, the export sector itself through its representatives, one of them is Richard Salazar -executive director of the Ecuadorian Banana Marketing and Export Association (Acorbanec)- stated that the FOB price exceeded $3, but today it appears with a cost of $2.16. Here it is not being transparent when the correct thing would be $6.50 plus $3.92, which is the FOB price, the price should be $9.42″, explained Solano, who assured that with the fixed FOB price, the producing sector only receives $0.02 more per banana box compared to the 2022 price.
To avoid this, the leader revealed that the Association of Banana Growers of the province of El Oro suggested to the Banana Consultative Council and the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Bernardo Manzanothat an independent verifier be hired to analyze and determine the real costs of production, an approach that was not taken into account, lamented the leader, who announced that they will challenge, through appeals and constitutional actions, the results of the Banana Consultative Council .
Solano also accused the minister of prevarication by pointing out that in a television program, broadcast last Sunday and recorded between Thursday and Friday of last week, he announced that there was already an agreement regarding the banana box, when the Council was to meet the next day.
“Before the negotiation table met, he already said that there was an agreement, it has even been prevaricated. The minister is perhaps clairvoyant, maybe he was right, since an agreement was going to be reached, that is the unknown, “criticized Solano, who asked for transparency and who, when consulted by this newspaper, why they did not complain during the Consultative Council , replied that they had no representation and that their suggestions were sent directly to Minister Manzano.
This newspaper also consulted Salazar about what Solano said. The head of Acorbanec described the position of the leader as surprising, assuring that the Association of Banana Producers of El Oro did have delegates on the Council, which was also corroborated by Franklin Torres, president of the National Federation of Banana Growers of Ecuador (Fenabe), who indicated that this association was represented by Xavier San Martin and Gonzalo Anchundia.
Salazar maintained that the five people who were in the negotiation were chosen by the producers themselves, as well as the exporters were chosen by vote also by their sector.
Exporters and producers put their cards on the table for the price of a box of bananas that will govern in 2023
“There were three technical meetings here, it is very easy to say my cost is $7 and put me $50, the FOB issue that Mr. (Solano) refers to, first because he is not an exporter, he would be wrong to say the FOB price is such or which. We effectively have an increase in the cost of expenses, some of which have already begun to be reduced. What he is referring to was a press release that is public, that can be seen through our networks, in which that value said that it included the issue of shipping freight, so the man is misinforming, “explained Salazar , and defended the actions and decisions taken in the Council by producers and exporters, which Solano is underestimating.
He added that the fixed FOB price is a minimum that normally in transactions, if the price is higher, the value at which it is actually sold is placed.
Torres also confirmed that the indicated FOB price is a minimum reference cost that is still under analysis and will be discussed within the next 60 days with the MAG and the exporters.
“What has been set is a minimum reference cost, which will surely be on the rise until we see where the price of FOB materials, which has been falling in recent months, remains,” explained the head of Fenabe. Although he stressed that it is the first time in seven years that the minimum support price has been set upwards, that is why he defended the Council’s results.
“Today for the first time in seven years the minimum support price has risen, not in the conditions that we required, but it still means a rise of $0.25 in the box,” said the leader.
“They are slow to enforce the laws”
Meanwhile, there were also signs for the MAG. Kurt Serrano, banana leader from El Oro, who was also at the press conference with Solano, criticized that State portfolio for its alleged complicity in the fictitious 20,000-hectare farm that was discovered registered in the Unibanano system with quotas for 60 boxes per hectare, which gives 1′ 200,000 boxes weekly; that is, 14% of the country’s exports, as specified by Minister Manzano when revealing the irregularity.
After denouncing a fictitious farm in the name of the MAG, producers ask to be compensated for three years of fraud; exporters, that the Banana Law be reformed
“They really are slow, they are slow to enforce the laws. On the first day of the minister’s inauguration, we had already announced that bananas continued to be exported outside the legal framework, failing to comply with the requirements, that they were not paid through the interbank system, that there were no contracts signed with the producers, but they continued to be exported banana in complicity with the MAG authorities, we had denounced that this was a sewer where the authorities of the unscrupulous exporters were complicit in exploiting the banana producers,” Serrano reproached. (YO)