W36: Banana Update

In W36 in the banana landscape, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the National Customs Service of Ecuador (Senae) have taken three significant actions to combat fraudulent banana exports. These actions include deactivating fictitious hectare (ha) codes, reviewing user profiles, and eliminating the F code. The MAG identified new anomalies in the Unibanano system, leading to the deactivation of approximately 16 thousand fictitious ha in addition to the 20 thousand ha identified in 2022. User profiles outside the MAG have been reviewed and restricted to only officials within the Undersecretariat of Musaceae. Furthermore, the F code, which allowed for unauthorized exports without contracts, will no longer be permitted starting immediately. These measures aim to enhance transparency and compliance with export regulations in the banana industry.

Furthermore, Ecuadorian Banana exports have shown a significant recovery in 2023, particularly in the European Union (EU), where purchases of Ecuadorian bananas have increased by 24%. This growth is attributed to a 10% rise in banana production compared to the previous year and reduced transportation costs. Furthermore, exports to Russia increased by 6%, the United States (US) by 5%, and China saw a notable 22% growth, driven by declining Chinese banana production due to diseases like Fusarium and Sigatoka. However, the recent outbreak of Fusarium Race 4 in Peru and worries about cocaine contamination in cargo have raised concerns for Ecuador's banana exports.

El Oro’s proximity to Peru, where a new Fusarium outbreak was reported, puts the province at the highest risk, as it is home to over 40% of Ecuador's banana producers. The sector has reinforced biosecurity measures, including farm fences, strict entry and exit controls, and personnel and tool disinfection. Additionally, the sector is investing in cargo traceability at USD 200 per container and bearing inspection costs by the Anti-Narcotics Police at USD 150 per container. Furthermore, efforts are underway to address issues in the Unibanano Banana Control System, with the government expected to announce corrective measures on September 2, 2023. These comprehensive actions aim to secure Ecuador's crucial banana industry amidst the challenges posed by Fusarium and cargo contamination.

Peru is actively addressing the threat of Fusarium Race 4 (Foc R4T) in its banana and plantain industry. While rumors of a new outbreak in Sullana emerged recently, the director of Plant Health at Senasa (The National Food Safety and Quality Service) clarified that Fusarium is confined to the China Valley in Piura and denied an ongoing spread.

In addition, the agricultural sector in Piura, Peru, is facing significant challenges due to adverse weather conditions, including the El Niño phenomenon. This has resulted in anticipated decreases in the production of various agro-export crops such as organic bananas, mangoes, avocados, grapes, and blueberries. Business leaders in Piura reported concerns about substantial losses in the region's agriculture. The manager of the Piura Chamber of Commerce and Production has noted that this situation represents the most severe crisis in the area in the past six years.

Lastly, Typhoon Haikui caused significant agricultural damage in Taiwan, particularly in Taitung County. The Ministry of Agriculture has announced cash assistance and low-interest loans for all agricultural products in the affected areas, including bananas. The Minister of Agriculture visited the affected regions to assess the damage to crops. The total agricultural losses from the typhoon exceeded USD 8.055 million (TWD 258 million), with Taitung County experiencing the most significant losses at USD 6.55 million (TWD 210 million). Despite the challenges posed by the typhoon, the supply of fruits and vegetables is forecasted to remain stable.

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