It is necessary then, to know more about the operation of the banana business in our country.
Banana production in Ecuador is based on about 200 thousand hectares, of which 36% correspond to small productive units that represent 80% of banana producers. Meanwhile, medium and large producers, who are the remaining 20%, control 64% of the area planted with this fruit. In other words, there is a concentration of land in the hands of the largest banana producers, some of which also control exports (1)
The largest banana exporting companies -year 2010- are: UBESA (Dole Group, USA), Pacific Crown Consumption Fruit (Bagnilasa, Russia), Bananera Continental (Noboa Group, Ecuador), Fruitstylelife (Conana Group, Germany), Reybanpac (Grupo Wong, Ecuador), OroBanana (Grupo OBSA, Ecuador), Brundicorpi (Grupo Chiquita, USA), Ecuagreenprodex (Grupo Banex, Russia), Asoagribal (Ecuador), Sertecban (Grupo Gropoagro, Ecuador) (2)
The concentration of land goes hand in hand with the concentration of water. A report from the Water Resources Forum warns that only exceptionally are banana plantations without irrigation water, which by the way is not authorized, that is to say illegal, in at least five times the amount of water that does have an authorization. (3)
The ecological economist Joan Martínez Alier warns about the fact that in banana exports, potassium and water are also being exported, substantial elements of soil fertility, which do not return to the field. This impoverishment of our lands as a consequence of sending potassium and water to consumers who consume this banana in the global market, is part of an ecologically unfair trade.
In addition to the concentration of land and water, other problems have to do with the fact that small and medium producers are tied to large producers / exporters not only for the sale of bananas but because they control the business of fumigation against Sigatoka black, quality verification, the sale of plastics for protection and packaging, the sale of cardboard, as well as the importation and distribution of pesticides, fertilizers and other inputs. (4)
If you want to support small banana producers, you should build with them a policy aimed at supporting their transition towards agroecology, the surest way to build food sovereignty, autonomy and peasant dignity.
We must also take into account the deplorable working conditions on the plantations, so often denounced; and the health situation of the populations affected by aerial spraying: the percentage of abortions is higher and with a growing trend, when compared to areas not affected by this contamination; Regarding the number of children born with malformations, it is also higher, 26 per thousand in areas affected by fumigations, compared to 2 in other areas. (5)
… In the name of free trade, anything goes?
1. Darío Cepeda. When the hands make the bunch: production and working conditions of bananas in Ecuador. In: Agroindustry and Food Sovereignty? Towards a Law on Agroindustry and Rural Employment. SIPAE. 2011
2. AEBE, 2011
3. Forum on Water Resources. The dispossession of water and the need for an urgent transformation. 2008
4. Heifer. Ecuador-European Union Multiparty Trade Agreement: negotiation of a disguised FTA. 2014
5. Adolfo Maldonado and Ana María Martínez. Impact of aerial fumigations in the Las Ramas-Salitre-Guayas banana plantations. 2007
More information about bananas in Ecuador:
A look at transgenic bananas from political ecology
Ecoportal.net Ecological Action