Ecuadorian banana farmers block roads to protest low prices

Band Yury Garcia

GUAYAQUIL, April 11 (Reuters)Banana growers in three provinces of Ecuador blocked major roads across the South American country on Monday to demand government action to raise prices they deem too low to meet production costs.

Growers were blocking major highways in El Oro, Guayas and Los Rios provinces with rocks and pebbles, saying they were struggling to break even because their share of sales was too low.

The cost of producing each 18-kilogram box of bananas has exceeded $5, Mirella Carrera, a banana farmer in Guayas province, told Reuters, but growers receive a maximum of $1.50 per box.

“All the growers and our collaborators are here to call, to demand that they respect our minimum price,” Carrera told Reuters by telephone. “The authority must force companies to respect the official price of 6.25 dollars for an 18-kilogram box of bananas.”

Banana crops are the main source of employment in the Ecuadorian agricultural sector and nearly two-thirds of production comes from small producers of less than 30 hectares.

The country’s government should cover the cost of fumigations or guarantee sales, other growers said.

“We are asking the government to solve part of this serious problem, either by buying bunches from small banana producers or, if not, by paying for (pest) fumigations, which are the most expensive,” the producer said. Eduardo Novillo bananas. via a phone call with Reuters.

The situation has worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine, halting shipments to the two countries that together consume around a quarter of Ecuador’s banana exports, Agriculture Minister Pedro Alava said during a meeting. a press conference in Guayaquil. He added that President Guillermo Lasso would address the issue.

“This is a very sensitive issue, rest assured that the president will handle the matter responsibly,” Alava said.

(Reporting by Yury Garcia Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by David Gregorio)

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