Heavy rains hit Ecuador but mangoes still on track

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Heavy rains hit Ecuador but mangoes still on track

Ecuador's mango industry has escaped relatively unscathed by heavy rains in recent weeks, but the grower representative body doesn't rule out that weather events may cut back production.

Mango Ecuador Foundation executive director Johnny Jara, told www.freshfruitportal.com the export season will finish towards the end of this month and is still on track to ship a total 7.6 million cartons, having come off peak volumes last year.

"Luckily in the mango production zones (Guayas province), so far there have been no rains that have affected the harvest. The rains have occurred in the highlands, what we call the sierra, but the current weather is already changing so rains could start in any moment," he says.

"If the weather allows it then it's possible we will meet our said expectations, and we are now depending on the weather, because if rains start and they are strong, the harvest would have to be suspended."

Jara says the season began one week late last year leading to better grower returns due to market scarcity.

"The delay meant that prices improved and as the campaign progressed, from the start of week 43 we started to have weekly volumes of more than 600,000 cartons with a peak between weeks 45 and 48.

"Compared to last year we had a delay of two weeks for peak production but in this business that leads to an improvement in prices."

Prices fell for Ecuadorian mangoes in December, which Jara attributes to strong volumes and holidays in the U.S.

"Once a country enters its peak production that starts to change the climate, and it is logical it will affect the market.

"Another factor that influences the Ecuadorian season is that we have three important holidays in the middle - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. This last one makes demand a bit slower and has a consequent impact on prices.

"In general terms producers know about these factors and try to plan their harvests in the best way possible so they are not commercially harmed."

Jara says Ecuador continued with its regulated policy of only shipping a maximum of 140-150 weekly containers to the U.S. The country ships around 84% of its mangoes to the North American country.

"Effectively for the U.S. market we have maintained this regulation and it has brought good results in terms of price."

Mining unlikely to affect industry

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has recently hailed in a new mining era with plans to build one of the world's biggest copper mines through state entity ENAMI, while also opening up to more exploration from foreign companies.

While in other countries agriculture and mining are at loggerheads over water rights issues, Jara assures that Ecuador's mining industry will be far from mango-growing zones.

"Mining zones are far from agriculture, and what should be guaranteed by the government is no contamination in the rivers, which tend to come from high areas where mining development is expected," says Jara.

"Productive mango zones use underground water (wells) or a pressurized piped irrigation system."

Related story: Ecuador planting new mango varieties

U.S. National Mango Board rallies support for global forum proposal


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