Costa Rica: Banana & Pineapple Growers Predict Reduction of US$ 254 Million In Exports in 2019


Costa Rican banana exports could fall by around US$ 154 million and pineapple exports by at least US$ 100 million in 2019 as a consequence of the impact on production of the drought generated by the El Niño Phenomenon and adverse market conditions.

The combined reduction of US$ 254 million has so far had no effect on employment in these two sectors although the National Chamber of Producers and Exporters of Pineapple (Canapep) predicts that by the end of this year the planted area may be reduced by about 5,000 hectares.

Costa Rica currently has 43,000 hectares cultivated with bananas, with an estimated 40,000 direct jobs while for the pineapple sector it has estimated 32,000 direct jobs and 44,000 hectares planted.

Jorge Sauma, general manager of the Corporación Bananera Nacional (Corbana), explained that the weather conditions and an attack of the “escama bacteria” could cause a reduction of between 15% and 20% in production and export revenues.

In 2018, banana exports generated US$ 1,020 million, so a 15% reduction (in the best scenario) would be about US$ 154 million, although Sauma argued that the weather conditions of last March and the possibility of El Niño spreading could escalate.

On the other hand, Abel Chaves, president of Canapep, says the fall in production and exports of pineapple was estimated, until now at a minimum of 10% compared to the 2018 figure.

Pineapple exports closed 2018 with a figure of US$ 984 million, according to data from the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer).

Laura Bonilla, president of the Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica (Cadexco), said that the drought is also leaving a strong mark on other export products.

Sauma recalled that in the Caribbean, where almost the entire banana area is concentrated, the common rains at the end and the beginning of year have increased. For this reason, producers and the industry in general have traditionally prepared to take water out of the farms, with the construction of infrastructure, such as drainage, and propping up the plants.

However, this year there were months of drought between December and March.

To this was added a strong attack of the cochineal bacterium. The two factors reduced the "baggings", which are the clusters that meet the requirement to be exported.

There have also been some problems with climate in Colombia (dramatic drought), another important producer, which would also have an impact in the second semester, explained Sauma.


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