Big slip for Ecuadorian banana crop surface area

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Big slip for Ecuadorian banana crop surface area

The amount of land dedicated to bananas in Ecuador has fallen by 14.5% year-on-year to 171,000 hectares in the last 12 months, according to a survey from the country's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fishing (MAGAP).

The figure was announced during the Global Banana Summit in Guayaquil, which included more than 500 participants and 47 exhibitors.

A report by website attributed the 29,000 hectare fall for the world's biggest banana exporter to production difficulties from the disease Black Sigatoka, heightened competition from cheaper fruit and issues with Ecuador's banana farm legalization process.

Despite the decline, the country's exports have only fallen marginally from 190 million boxes between January and September in 2012 to 189 million boxes during the same period this year, according to the Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association (AEBE).

The association's director Eduardo Ledesma told the publication that while Ecuadorian banana boxes were sold at US$8.95 each, competitors from Peru, Colombia and Central America were selling at prices between US$8-8.35.

For 2014, the industry leader expects a difference of US$0.35 between competitor prices and Ecuador's.

El Oro-based Banana grower Leopoldo Cano's calculations were more pessimistic than the official figures, with the belief that total production area had declined by 60,000 hectares in the past year.  He said tackling Black Sigatoka alone represented about 35% of growers' costs.

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