Banana producers in southwestern Ecuador asked the national government for help in the face of a possible crisis in the sector, due to the imminent collapse of sales to Russia and Ukraine, destinations to which 25% of total fruit exports are directed. from the country.
The Committee of Small Banana Producers of the coastal province of El Oro requested the help of the Executive “against the serious effects and social impact in the sector”, as a result of the war in Ukraine.
According to the union, during this week some 25,000 jobs have been lost in the banana sector, a “devastating” situation for families related to the industry and serious for the economy of Ecuador, considered one of the largest producers and exporters of the fruit in the world.
For this reason, the Banana Committee called on the Government to jointly design “effective and urgent actions in the short term to prevent and face this imminent crisis”.
Liquidity problems and, above all, the increase in the price of agricultural inputs, which mainly come from Russia, are added to the suspension of exports, said Lianne Zoeteweij, from the Association of producers in the El Guabo area.
“Today we have many complications as a producing sector, especially small producers, who are receiving a minimum value for the fruit and, even so, we must pay very heavy taxes”, he added.
Zoeteweij, a woman of Dutch origin who has lived in Ecuador for 17 years, said that 25% of all banana exports from the country go to Russia.
In addition, he stressed that 95% of the fruit that Russia buys comes from Ecuador, so the impact is direct for the country, compared to other American producers such as Colombia and Costa Rica, which have a limited presence in that market.
According to the union, at least 765,000 boxes of bananas are at risk of not being exported this week because buyers in Russia cannot purchase the product due to the devaluation of their currency.
If this happens, the risk of bankruptcy of small producers in the country also increases, the expert added after indicating that the effect will be felt throughout the banana value chain, since a significant volume of inputs and fertilizers used by the sector comes from Russia.
And it is that Russia is the main supplier of fertilizers, with a 38% share of the world market, and due to the conflict, several shipping companies have suspended routes and some ports have closed their doors for security, the union pointed out.
For José Molina, from the Oro Verde Cooperative, the banana sector needs long-term loans from public banks, “taking into account that a very critical situation is approaching” because fertilizer prices have risen in “more than 100%”.
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